A Path to Better Health and Happiness
by Cheryl Reynolds
Our minds are fickle. We chase our thoughts into the future or dive into the regrets and memories of the past. Neither past nor present will bring the fulfillment we desire, thus the vicious cycle continues.
Happiness starts in the now, this present moment in time. We can do this by being mindful. Mindfulness is the ability to be present in the moment on purpose with a heightened sense of awareness without judgment.
Mindfulness can bring simple joy and peace while helping to cultivate acceptance of the up-and- down moments of life. Many try mindfulness but give up before really getting started, because the busy brain gets in the way as it wanders around thinking. Thinking is what the brain does, and it does it well.
According to the Laboratory of Neuro Imaging at the University of Southern California, we have around 70,000 thoughts a day. About 90 percent of our thoughts are repeats from yesterday, and most are negative. Given that we think about the same things over and over again, it is amazing that, from day to day, anything actually gets done.
The best way to start mindfulness is to start slow. One easy technique is called One Minute of Mindfulness, where an individual stays completely present to one’s surroundings for a solid minute, continually bringing the focus back to the present moment, coaxing the brain to think in the background only. Over time, the brain naturally becomes less busy-minded and more content.
Being mindful can decrease stress, worry and anxiety. It can also help increase focus, improve decision making, and help with ailments such as pain, bowel troubles and headaches. Mindfulness cultivates overall health and happiness, while bringing spaciousness to our relationships as we become more open, patient and appreciative.
Here are 10 easy tips to help use the One Minute of Mindfulness effortlessly.
- One of the most common ways to be mindful is to breathe. Instead of focusing on the breath, focus on the area below the nose. Be aware of the sensation of air as it touches that area moving gently in and out.
- Be nonjudgmental in our mindfulness. As soon as we judge, we also label which turns into comparison. At that point the mind starts to think and analyze. We need to notice with complete awareness without judging what we see.
- Incorporate neuroplasticity with mindfulness. Neuroplasticity is the ability of the brain to change as we bring in more positive thoughts and emotions. Dr. Rick Hanson, author of Hardwiring Happiness says, “The brain is the organ that learns, so it is designed to be changed by your experiences.” When we focus on happiness, we become happier. To do this, simply focus on a feeling of happiness and hold it a bit longer allowing that feeling to permeate the senses. Overtime this rewires the brain to become happier.
- Mindfulness is the gateway to gratitude. Grateful people tend to be more optimistic, a characteristic that researchers say boosts the immune system. Take a minute each day to pull in as much gratitude as possible, allowing it to settle in the heart as we open to the joy and healthy mindset it brings.
- Listen to sounds as if they have never been heard before. With a quiet yet open mind, we can notice that the world has a melodic sound of its own.
- Pick an object and look at it in complete detail with childlike wonder. Notice the shape, color, size, odor, sound and texture. Become completely focused on this object.
- For those that have a really busy mind, keep the body moving. Yoga, dance, tai chi, running, and walking can help in becoming present with mindful body awareness. We can become emerged in the sensation of our body: the size, shape and how it moves.
- Change up one’s routine, or go on a mini-vacation. Vacations give us reprieve from day to day life, and allow for seeing things with a different perspective as our attention becomes heightened with new experiences.
- Slowly and steadily repeat over and over the word “now”. The fraction of milliseconds it takes the brain to register its surroundings, time has already passed. This is a wonderful eye- opening technique to see what time really is.
- One of the greatest One Minute of Mindfulness techniques is to be completely present with those we love. Family, friends and pets are important and in our lives for a reason. Cherish them by putting down the phone, and instead pick up focused attention so we can really enjoy the precious time we have with them. This is a great gift to them and to our over-all well-being.
As these techniques are used, we can learn to easily become mindful more regularly, one minute at a time.
Cheryl Reynolds is owner of Mindful Living Hypnosis, located at 4372 Post Rd., East Greenwich. She is a registered nurse, spiritual facilitator trained in hypnosis by world renowned hypnosis instructor Tom Nicoli. She is also a certified member of the National Guild of Hypnotists and a certified life coach with specialization in stress reduction and mindfulness. For more information and additional mindfulness techniques, call 401-301-4426 or visit MindfulLivingHypnosis.com. See ad, page ??.