Mindfulness: What's to Gain?

"Between stimulus and response there is a space.  In that space is our power to choose our response.  In our response lies our growth and our freedom."

- Viktor Frankl, Psychiatrist and holocaust survivor

 

Mindfulness develops our ability to choose our response

Our respones to fears and obsessions, to insecurity, to cravings and impulses.  It relinquishes obsessions and responses that once seemed insurmountable - part of who we were.  It opens up a larger world to us.

By stepping back and observing our thoughts compassionately, we begin to pick which responses and ideas are worth pursuing.   We begin to identify with what many consider a larger self-the source of our energy and creativity and compassion.  The limitless parts of us.

 

Mindfulness allows us to stand back from our habitual behaviors and thought patterns.

With practice you will become increasing aware and empowered to notice ingrained reactions that prevent you from responding consciously and constructively. You will be able to see things more clearly and choose your response rather than reacting automatically.

For Instance….

Rather than noticing after 5 or 10 minutes that you've been lost in bad memories or anxiety or fantasies of revenge, you can catch yourself after a few seconds or a minute-better yet, you can learn to recognize yourself in the process of getting lost in memory or future possibilities and redirect your energy.  You're not condemned to the same fruitless, automatic reactions to situations over and over again.

 

For Instance….

For a lot of us, traffic is a fact of life.  No matter how many times a day you begin to slow at traffic jam, your automatic response may be to view it a problem that will make you late, waste time, take something from your day.  But it's really just a bunch of cars on the road.  And rather than simply experiencing the experience, we tend to evaluate and respond automatically-clogged roadway  = extra time stuck in car = misery.   However, when we're fully aware of the present moment we can simply experience it, without connecting it immediately to some emotion.  We aren't automatically condemned to misery ever time we find ourselves stuff in a traffic jam.  It's simply a bunch of cars in the road.

 

Mindfulness allows us to switch off autopilot.

Our thoughts have a huge impact on our emotions, particularly when we identify with them, engage them and ultimately, believe them. Additionally automatic negative thoughts lead to difficult emotions.

For Instance….

All the sudden you realize that you're depressed, angry or tired.  But if you're aware of these thoughts, you have a choice as whether to believe them.   You don't have to get caught up in the past or spend time thinking about the future -about errands we need to run,  the unfinished report on our desk, calls we need to make, a relationship that didn't go the way we' d intended.  When we operate our  in autopilot mode, we're less aware of what we are doing right now.  We live our lives in a state of reaction over which we have no control.

 

Mindfulness can be incorporated into all areas of your life.

Relationships, work, eating, movement and exercise-even parenting.

For Instance….

Mindful eating has the potential to transform your fundamental relationship to food and eating, to improve your general health, body image, relationships and self-esteem. If you are eating mindfully, you are aware and attentive to all dimensions of eating. Mindful eating involves:

- Learning to make choices in beginning or ending a meal based on awareness of hunger and satiety cues
- Learning to identify personal triggers for mindless eating, such as emotions, social pressures, or certain foods
- Valuing quality over quantity of what you're eating
- Appreciating the sensual as well as the nourishing capacity of food
- Feeling the deep gratitude that can come from appreciating and experiencing food

 

Mindfulness increases your appreciation of life.

A person with a deep sense of awareness and attentiveness finds life's activities to be more fulfilling in general. Intrinsically pleasant experiences (food, music, sexuality, etc.) are vastly more intense and satisfying simply because one is more fully "in the moment."  And ordinary, banal experiences-washing dishes, driving to work, small talk-can take on extraordinary vibrancy.  They can be fascinating.  Boredom becomes a thing of the past.

 

Some of the benefits mindfulness brings to everyday life:

  • Reduces stress
  • Reduces anxiety
  • Reduces depression
  • Improves relationships
  • creases overall sense of wellbeing
  • Regulates eating habits
  • Regulates sleep
  • Reduces chronic pain
  • Boosts energy
  • Strengthens the immune system
  • Increases happiness
  • Increases clarity of mind
  • Boosts creativity
  • Increases feelings of peacefulness and calmness

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