Abstract...What is mindful living and what does it hold for us in our daily lives, needs to be explored as it holds so many potentials for the thousand wonders that can be unlocked in every moment of our lives. Mindful living is being mindful from mindful walking, to mindful eating, to mindful sleeping, to mindful acting, as all these comprise mindful living, so we can unlock the gifts of every moment. ITs time we revise the way we see life, so life comes back to us in a thousand ways.
What is mindfulness? It is a way to focus on the present moment in an intentional, non-judgmental, way. The techniques of mindfulness are also incorporated in yoga and meditation in many instances. It involves---awareness, focus, acceptance and observation. Awareness—It is the ability to be tuned into what is happening in the present moment and that includes, sights, sounds, smell, or physical sensations which we might otherwise ignore. Being aware of these senses heightens our alertness and attention to the present moment. The moment we acknowledge our sight, the sounds rising from the heart of this universe, the smell of something aromatic, the sounds emanating from the environment around—those trigger certain sensations in the body. They raise our awareness of this moment that we have for real. Focus---Its our ability how to be attentive of the present moment, instead of worrying about the bygone yesterdays, or the future that is yet to come. How we can look past those and still eb able to live in what we have for real, the only thing that we have now and how we can concentrate on that without drifting, without aimless wandering away from it—that depends on how alert we are to this moment, how focused we are.
Acceptance---As we accept whatever we might be feeling or thinking inside, without judging them or interfering with them in order to change it, we accept them unconditionally. We do not try to be reactive. We just let them be, the way they are, let them come, the way they come. Such an acceptance opens our hearts from inside and let us be more receptive, sharing and caring. Observation---As we recognize unpleasant sensations, emotions, thoughts and feelings as coming and going, temporary and fleeting, we observe them objectively without reacting or judging them in any way. Instead of becoming reactive or judgmental, we become observant. How does Mindfulness benefit us? According to the recent research, it has benefited physical and mental health. Its strongest health benefits are ---Improves mood, reduces stress and stress- related problems, improves the coping with pain, improves the brain functions, and helps with the weight management. Mood improvement---Mindfulness techniques may help lift the anxiety and depression from our hearts. So, we can get to live from moment to moment. We can bask in the splendor of every moment that comes, so effortlessly. It prevents a depression relapse.
Stress reduction---Living a mindful life can lead to less stress responses. We do not feel the impulse to respond to stress so negatively. This in turn has many other health benefits like lowering the blood pressure, and a strengthened immune system. Improvement in pain handling---People who practice mindfulness meditation have reported less pain intensity, and distress that is related to pain. They live a more active life despite their existing pain. Improvement in brain functioning---Living a mindful life helps us to be attentive and more focused. Practicing mindfulness can sharpen memory and enhance mental performance. Helps with weight management---Certain mindfulness techniques have shown to reduce overeating and thus it reduces obesity. As we listen to the messages of the body while eating, we do not just engage in eating to the fullest. Rather we get the signals from the body, and they tell us how much is too much. As we are attentive to those signals, we become attentive while eating and stop over-eating. Learning to be mindful has a lot of practical relevance and can be applied to the daily regimen.
Common Mindfulness Techniques---Mindful breathing—IT is a simple exercise. Spending a few minutes every single day focusing our awareness on the thoughts and our breath, on their movement, how the thoughts arise, how they come and go, the pattern of their movement and as well as the breath as we inhale and exhale. We can observe them without trying to change or control them in any way. Examine your body---While lying down or seated, focus your attention, examine your body part, one at a time, observing any physical sensation without judging ore reacting to them. The examination of body can start with the soles of our feet, and then we can progressively shift our awareness to the knees, hips, back, belly, chest, neck and head. Mindful eating---This process involves eating very deliberately and slowly. We have to eat intentionally, not randomly or whimsically, as we pay a full attention to touching it, holding it, smelling, tasting, chewing and finally swallowing it. In a mindful eating—we listen to our body and stop when we are full. We eat when our bodies tell us to eat, when we have low energy or stomach signaling. We eat with others at set times and places. We eat foods that are very much nutritionally healthy. When we are eating, we are just eating. Loving-kindness meditation----It is an exercise in which we direct positive thoughts first to ourselves, then to our close family and friends, then to more distant acquaintances and gradually we direct them to all humanity. We first fill our inner fountain with uplifting thoughts that rejuvenate us and then walk towards others to rejuvenate them. Mindful movement---While walking or strolling, we can be observants of our breathing, body movements, and surroundings. We can practice mindfulness and engage in yoga, being attentive to the physical sensations as we enter and hold each pose.
Through practicing mindfulness, a person’s attitude to stress changes. Instead of breaking down in a stressful situation, we can allow ourselves to perceive stress differently in a space offered by the mindful living. By practicing mindfulness, the brain’s amygdala—"fight or flight center”, which is involved with fear and emotion, and initiation of the body’s reaction to stress-- happens to shrink. With the shrinkage of amygdala, the pre-fontal cortex whose activities are more of the higher order brain function—awareness, concentration and decision -making –they tend to increase. Such is the way, mindful living does help us to de-stress and we can leave the painful past in the past, emerging with much of a consciousness, awareness, mentally alert and enlivened human beings. We who were once beaten by life can beat the mental stress.
And it becomes a mindful living. So many pleasures are scattered along the path as we just live from moment to moment, basking in what we see strewn upon the path. Our resistance melts away, as we surrender to life when it comes in its terms. We meet life not to challenge it, not to win it, but try to befriend it with an understanding perspective.
About the author....
Jayita Bhattacharjee....born in Calcutta, India and later on education from University of Houston in Economics, she had chosen her career as a trustee and teacher.
Her books " The Ecstatic Dance of Life",
" Sacred Sanctuary", " Light of Consciousness", " Dewdrops of Compassion" " The Light of Life",
" Song of Eternity" " The Breath of Heaven" are among the many that she has authored.