Jul 28 2015
Busy is a buzz word. It’s the latest craze to be taking the world by storm. In our society everyone is busy. It almost comes with a certain level of admiration, as the busier you are the better you must be doing at work, study, family life. Free weekends are non-existent and invitations are sent out months in advance to guarantee attendance. No sooner does free time come up in your diary then it is refilled with another important event. People who are busy are often shrouded in a cloud of guilt; a friend confessed in tears that she was too busy at work to help out with a best friends baby shower, another ashamedly admitted to avoiding friends calls just to dodge the possibility of being asked to go out.
The reality is that being busy can be a complete departure from the present moment, in essence a mudslide to mindlessness.
How many times this week have you eaten breakfast whilst checking emails, or even worse eaten breakfast whilst driving? When was the last time that you cleaned your teeth whilst thinking about everything but cleaning your teeth?
Busyness is undoubtedly accompanied by its best friend, stress, whose favourite mantra repeatedly reminds us that we “have too much to do” or “can’t cope”.
So how can we create more space in our day? How can we be more productive? How can we ease stress and avoid the inevitable burnout that comes with being busy all the time?
As a student studying two subjects, working full time, interning and having full-on sporting commitments, I am completely guilty of being in the busy trap. I am that person who when someone asks how I am I say, “I’m really busy” and I hate myself for it! As an interning psychologist at a Mindfulness institute I felt like a fraud to say that I often feel completely stressed out and overwhelmed by all the things I have to do. I often think: “when this assignment is done then I can relax”, or “when this event is over, I can start getting things done again”.
The one thing that seems to make me feel better (when I can fit it in) is meditation.
This statement brings one word to mind, priorities. Making meditation a priority rather then the thing that lives at the end of your to do list (along with calling your grandparents and washing your car) is the key. Making meditation a priority has a trickle-down effect of first creating space in your mind and then space in your day. A calm and quiet mind is better able to solve problems, is more productive and is a place where creativity can flourish.
The positive effects of Mindfulness Meditation are endless when it comes to things such as improved concentration, stress reduction, and positive mood. All these things can help you cope with the many tasks that fill your day and stop you from feeling completely overwhelmed. So, every day take 5 minutes to connect with where you are right now even if it’s just sitting at your desk. Feel your feet on the floor, your body in your seat, take a few deep breaths and acknowledge the moment that you are in right now. Challenge yourself to 10 minutes of meditation each day for a week and see the impact that it has on your life.
For a link to a free meditation that you can listen to right now, check out: https://www.theindigoproject.com.au/yoga-mindfulness/products
Good luck with your journey!
Jun 18 2015
It’s hard to think of anything better than chocolate, but according to scientific findings, mindfulness has the ability to make you happier than your favourite delectable treat.
Research from Harvard University’s Matthew Killingsworth and Daniel Gilbert points to this somewhat shocking fact: we spend a whopping 47% of our day lost in thought, and this is correlated with unhappiness. In other words, instead of focusing on what is in front of us, we’re drifting through our lives in a daze, consumed by thoughts of what could have been or planning things that are out of our control.
The study summarises:
“A human mind is a wandering mind, and a wandering mind is an unhappy mind. The ability to think about what is not happening is a cognitive achievement that comes at an emotional cost.”
What’s more, according to the research, the type of activity we’re engaged in doesn’t really change whether or not our minds wander. So whether you’re taking a shower or eating a block of your favourite chocolatey goodness, you’re just as likely to have a wandering mind – and thus be somewhat unhappy.
Mindfulness, on the other hand, allows us to be more present and more engaged in what we’re doing. Therefore, mindfulness trumps chocolate when it comes to delivering happiness.
So, what is mindfulness? Simply put, it is the ability to pay attention on purpose. It cannot be readily bought at the store but is, in fact, free and can be practiced anywhere you go. It’s benefits are far-reaching – from improving your immune system and energy levels to relieving stress and improving sleep. Mindfulness is also kick-ass for reducing worry, anxiety and emotional reactivity.
It allows us to engage with the here and now and approach our lives with greater clarity and peace of mind.
Mindfulness and meditation are hot-topics today, with a slew of ‘unlikely meditators’ – US Marines, Google employees, corporate executives, and high profile athletes – learning this powerful skill.
The roots of mindfulness lie in Eastern Buddhist traditions and the practice is deceptively simple – focusing attention on the breath, sensations in the body or paying attention to the senses of smell, taste, touch, hearing, and sight.
The best way to experience mindfulness is to try it for yourself. In fact, it could make the experience of eating chocolate even more delightful!
Try this mindful eating exercise to experience the concept of Mindfulness:
1. BREATHE: Take a few deep breaths to settle your mind and body.
2. LOOK: Let your eyes explore your whole plate, noticing the colours and textures.
3. TOUCH: If it’s not too messy, touch your food, noticing the way it feels.
4. SMELL: Hold the food beneath your nose, and observe its aroma, noticing as you do this if there’s anything interesting happening in your mouth or stomach.
5. TASTE: Very consciously, take one or two bites into your meal.
6. FEEL: Chew your food slowly and mindfully swallow.
Repeat this for a few mouthfuls of food, noticing your thoughts as you do so.
Notice how slowing down and tasting your food helps bring you into the present moment and can change the nature of your experience. To learn more, pick up a copy of ‘Why Mindfulness is Better Than Chocolate’ by international best-selling author David Michie.
So the verdict is in: mindfulness is better than chocolate for long-term happiness, but hey…why not put them both together for an even better experience?
Be mindful and really enjoy that chocolate!