Take Time Out to Mindfully Change Your Life
I know I’m supposed to be talking about food. But my ultimate focus as a health coach is less on food and more about how I can change your life so that food fits into it in a positive way. And that you have to change the inside and the outside will most likely follow. I say “most likely” because we just don’t know for sure. So the trick is to surrender to some sort of mindfulness technique, which makes change more possible. And then offer up the anxiety of not knowing to it.
In my practice, I find that I spend much of my session time talking about de-stressing and becoming more aware. Because that’s the only way you change; you have to be mindful of what you do before it can become what you did. And, true to my penchant for synchronicity, I turned on the TV this early, early morning and happened upon an old movie, The Legend of Bagger Vance. It’s as much about golf as Field of Dreams is about baseball. In it, Will Smith’s guru character wisely says, “There’s a perfect shot out there trying to find each and every one of us. All we’ve got to do is get ourselves out of its way and let it choose us”.
Most of my clients are too stressed, sapped, and self-effacing to find their perfect shot let alone get out of its way. They do little to take care of themselves until they get fat, fatigued, or feel crappy. Hey … look … the line outside the In-and-Out burger place down my street is often three blocks long even with two driveways and a person running between tirelessly taking orders. I’ve often considered it a metaphor for the state of mindless eating in our society.
So you’re one of those fat, fatigued, or feel-crappy people. You come to see me for a “diet”. But I can’t do that first. Because you’re stressed, sapped, self-effacing … and hopelessly unaware of yourself. So you need instead to start there. You need to slow down and find a way to fit mindfulness into to your life that is not only fun … but fits your particular brand of living. In my opinion, it’s the best, easiest way to coax within the change you want to be.
What IS Mindfulness? According to Greater Good Magazine,
Mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment.
Mindfulness also involves acceptance, meaning that we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings without judging them—without believing, for instance, that there’s a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to think or feel in a given moment. When we practice mindfulness, our thoughts tune into what we’re sensing in the present moment rather than rehashing the past or imagining the future.
Sound like a tall order? Got that right! That’s why it’s important to make mindfulness a daily practice. Because changing your behavior doesn’t happen until three things are present … 1) you want to, 2) you know how, and 3) you believe you can. You take care of number one (pun intended) and the other two are accomplished by the right daily practice for you. There are as many ways to do that as there are people. But here are a few things you can do…. and things that I’m continually encouraging for my clients … that WORK.
PICK ONE OF THESE TO START:
Keep a gratitude journal. Find a piece of paper (or there are journals exactly for this purpose), write “I am so happy and grateful that …”, and finish the sentence. Do it 100 times. Studies have shown that keeping a gratitude journal helped participants to report:
16% fewer physical symptoms
19% more time exercising
10% less physical pain
8% more sleep
25% increased sleep quality …
as well as reducing depression for more than 30% of participants, increasing energy, and even significantly decreasing systolic blood pressure (the one that’s highest when you’re overweight) for those who only felt grateful once a week.
Show concern and compassion for others. Those victim to the Las Vegas massacre yesterday might be a good place to start. Or anyone you know who is suffering mentally and/or physically. This gets you out of your own drama and focused upon things that really matter.
Tune into your own body. Sit in a chair or lie on the floor, take a few deep breaths, hold each for a count of two, and breathe out slowly. Then ask yourself, ‘What is my body telling me?” Explore what impulses you’re picking up, any discomfort, the feeling of your body on the surface that’s supporting it, what you hear, see, touch, smell, and possibly taste. Then tune into your hunger … rate it on a scale of 1 to 10. Are you ready to eat?
ADD AND MIX WELL:
Download a guided phone or computer app … and use it. Technology continues to invent fabulous mindfulness and meditation tools available at the poke of a finger. Try Buddify, Whil (free), or Headspace (paid). I also like Insight Timer (free), which offers Tibetan singing bowl timers and lots of meditations, guided imageries, and soothing music of varying lengths so you can close your office door, plug in, and zone out. This app also offers you kindred communities to join. For your computer, bookmark www.donothingfor2minutes.com, a two-minute take-a-break timer complete with the soothing sound of ocean waves. I like the idea, from Bagger Vance, that these practices teach you “How to stop thinking without falling asleep”.
Get physical. You probably already know all benefits of exercise by heart without me having to list them here. So do something physical that you enjoy, even if you just take a walk. And don’t forget to strrreetttch, which is the physical equivalent of tuning into your body. There’s even an app for walking meditations … but it’ll cost you … $1.99. Get up off that couch!
BREATHE! Breathing saved my life! I had massive panic attacks at one time made even worse by my acting, as my emotions always seemed to be coiled about the raw claws of my fingertips ready to strike. I cured myself of these attacks by learning how to and then forcing myself to breathe deeply … I commanded myself out loud to, “Breathe, Breathe!”. Emily Fletcher, found of Ziva Meditation, instructs “Make your exhalations twice as long as your inhalations for three to four minutes”. Breathing cools concerns in a snap!
Ready to get your zen on? OOOOHHHHMM …
Leave Your Comments About Get Your Zen On Below
Any of the above resonate with you? What do you do to de-stress?