I think as adults many of us take ourselves too seriously. We get caught up in the mundane daily obligations and stresses, and we don't take time to enjoy everyday pleasures. It is so easy to think about past events, reliving them in our minds over and over; often with regret. Or to continuously anticipate the future, either with hope, but more often with anxiety. The present, the moment that we are in, is so often overlooked. Unless we make a deliberate effort to become mindful and aware, the instant is gone, poof! It is almost as if we live our lives unconsciously. I too am guilty of this, often my busy schedule gets the best of me and I focus on what I have to do next, instead of what I am actually doing now. Sometimes, before I know it, the day is practically over and I have to stop and think of what occurred during that day.
Learning to be mindful is not difficult, it just takes practice. One easy way to start is to use your senses. Begin by focusing on your breath, try it right now. As you sit reading this begin to notice your breath flowing into your nostrils and down into your lungs. Feel your chest rise as the air fills it, and notice how it relaxes as you exhale. Have you ever realized that the air you exhale is warmer that the air you inhale? Notice that right now. Then use your ears to hear your breath as you inhale and exhale a bit more deeply through your nostrils. Can you hear it? Listen to the sounds around you. Many times we stop hearing familiar sounds. Deliberately pay attention to your surroundings. There are so many sounds going on around you constantly, that your brain stops hearing them because it gets used to those sounds. One good example is the sounds of the crickets and frogs at night. We are so accustomed to them that we stop paying attention, and literally stop hearing the sounds of the night. Many times, it is only when I am on Skype with my Dad and he remarks on the Coqui that I actually hear the sounds of the night. Use your sense of touch now, and become aware of your body. Notice what you are sitting on or lying against. Feel it against your body. What are your hands doing? Are they holding something or pushing on keys. How do your fingers feel right now? Notice your limbs and your feet. What of the smell. Are you aware of any scent in the air? Notice the taste in your mouth right now. Feel your teeth with your tongue. Once you have scanned your body, then just observe your surroundings. When is the last time that you actually looked at the walls of the place you are in right now, or observed your surroundings if you are outdoors? All the while you are doing this just continue to breathe and be. Don't try to judge any of the sensations that you are noticing. This kind of mindfulness practice helps to relax the mind and allows it to slow down. By doing this regularly, you can manage stress more easily. Whenever you are in the present moment, it is difficult to be anxious or worried because you are in the now.
The mind, body and spirit are intimately connected and I believe that a lot of the dis-ease we experience is due to the constant busyness of our lives. We are constantly doing, doing, doing and not just being. We do not make the time to relax, be in the moment and feel thankful for our blessings. Many of us are in the habit of working constantly, worrying, and not enjoying ourselves. I think many of us would feel better and enjoy lives more if we made time during our day to stop, focus our breath, become present, and feel thankful for the good things in our lives.
I often see patients in the office who have no specific complaint. They don't know what's wrong.They have lots of aches and pains and just don't feel well. I ask them specific questions about their physical health focusing on their symptoms. Then I ask them questions they may not expect from a medical doctor. I ask them if they are happy with their lives - personally in their relationships, home environment and community; professionally - at their workplace, among their colleagues; and spiritually - do they pray, meditate, go to church etc. Their responses often reveal the source of the problem. Many times, it is the stress, unhappiness or grief that is causing their physical symptoms. I tell them as much and make appropriate suggestions. Most times, it is not a prescription for a pill. Tablets do not cure everything. These patients, once they become aware of the fact that they have to make changes in their lives and start to do so, begin to feel better.
Make time to become present, enjoy each moment with gratitude, and just be.
Yours in health and wellness,