A staggering majority of the global populace is stressed. Most people are in financial stress. Many are stressed for basics, essentials like food, housing and medicine. Many are stressed owing to health ailments. The younger generations are stressed owing to the immense pressure borne out of the sheer professional competition and the perennial demand to do better. Modern lifestyles have been on the fast lane for decades now. Today, life is progressing at the speed of light and most people are unmindful of how they are, what they truly feel and if there is a better way of leading life.
Stress is a killer. It is fatal over time. Studies conducted across the United States and Europe have inferred that more people are suffering from psychological conditions such as anxiety and stress than ever before. There is an urgent need to combat stress. One way of doing that is practicing mindfulness. When days and nights whisk by like minutes, when there are dozens of distractions all around us and very little time to even ponder over what one is doing or wants to do, being absentminded is not a symptom of ADHD or any other cognitive anomaly. Being absentminded is the direct outcome of the demands of life.
Significance of Mindfulness
Forgetfulness has always been associated with the elderly and usually kids that don’t pay attention to what they are being told or asked to do. Many people are just careless and hence become forgetful but that is not directly caused or influenced by stress. It is just an attitude. Every ordinary person is expected to be mindful. That is not happening today.
Whether you hold technology responsible or the contemporary lifestyle, the restlessness or the shrinking attention span especially among the millennial generation, mindfulness has taken a backseat. It is necessary to note that mindfulness helps in developing and retaining memories. Mindfulness plays a quintessential role in how we feel, at a given moment and what kind of emotional experience we have over time. Mindfulness affects our sleep, appetite, exercise, relationships, entertainment, interests, likes and dislikes. More importantly, it affects our stress levels.
Practicing Mindfulness Everyday
The best way to practice mindfulness is meditation. Since it is not something you can master in one day, let us first talk about the easier mediums.
• Allot some time every day or night when you would be all by yourself, away from work and chores, not caring about expectations or commitments. This is the clichéd ‘me time’. You can enjoy some solitude, read a book, watch some television, listen to some music or do whatever it is that you would like to do. Try to stay off distractions like mobiles, laptops and other gadgets, unless they are of a different class altogether that will teleport you to a mindful world.
• Sleep for a good eight hours. If you cannot, try and get a power nap at some point in time through the day or evening to have a total eight hours of sleep every twenty four hours. Complement this sleeping schedule with timely meals. Eat well, enough to satiate hunger but not enough to put on weight. Eat nutritious meals, avoid binge eating and definitely avoid starving.
• Explore a hobby. It could be gardening, woodworking, cooking, reading, playing a musical instrument, learning a new skill or honing a skill you already have. Anything that gives you pleasure but is not even remotely a bore should be explored. This will immediately teleport you to a world where you will be mindful, you will derive joy out of something other than the material pleasures of life.
• Many people experience relief from stress while indulging in certain activities. For instance, many people love playing with their dogs. Many parents unwind while playing with their kids. Some people like volunteering while some like to spearhead socioeconomic or cultural, political or local campaigns. Whatever has a stress relieving effect on you should be practiced, as long as it has no adverse impact on your life, health or family.
Meditation and Mindfulness
Meditation is the most effective way to attain mindfulness. A calm mind is the most quintessential element to unwind, to get relief from stress, to focus on yourself and to find pleasure out of nothing but just from the fact of being. It is not necessary to combine meditation with yoga but you may do so. You can meditate before or after exercising, before or after sleep, any time during the day and do so alone or with a group. There is no singular mantra that works for everyone. But you do need a facilitating place to meditate. It is impossible to meditate in the middle of a busy street or in your conference room with people debating every idea.
Here is a comprehensive guide to meditate in order to attain mindfulness.
• Begin with this simple exercise. Sit on the floor or on your bed. It is better if the surface is hard so you can use your sitting bones to stay upright. Close your mouth, keep your chin straight and eyes looking horizontally straight before you close them. Align your jaws so they fit neatly, relax your tongue and let it rest as the tip touches the back of the front teeth. Now you should breathe in quietly and slowly through the nose. Count to three and then hold your breath for five to seven seconds. Just count till seven and then exhale through the mouth. Repeat this exercise for three or five times at a stretch, take a moment and then repeat the set at least three times.
• The breathing exercise is unwinding in itself but it is also a precursor to meditation. There are many approaches to meditation. You can read credible books, check out videos or have audio books. You would essentially need a quiet place where you would be all by yourself and if there is anyone else then that person should also be meditating, thus ridding any activity other than meditation. Sit upright and practice the breathing as you focus your conscious mind into one singularity, your being.
• Meditation is not thinking about the cosmos, the cosmic energy or anything outlandish. It is about focusing on your body, your senses, how you are feeling, is there any discomfort in your physical self, how are you feeling mentally, do you feel joy or sadness, restlessness or calm, try to steer clear of specific memories, switch off your professional cognition and even your familial chores. Let your mind be truly free, completely blank and then you would start feeling the various energies that work in and around your body.
• As you continue to sit for ten minutes or it could be thirty minutes for those with some practice, you will feel strange sensations in your body. The body will react to the calmness, to the posture, to the relaxed but rhythmic breathing and your mind will enter a state of nothingness yet be completely aware. This is the kind of mindfulness that will get rid of stress completely and rejuvenate you every time. Meditation is not only good for mindfulness and hence to combat your stress but also for health in general.
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