Life got you crazy? Struggling to concentrate? Can’t seem to stay focused? Can’t get things done? Feeling inexplicably downhearted?
Take a breath. Literally.
Somedays we stretch our bodies and brains to the snapping point by trying to tackle everything rather than taking a focused approach and completing one project at a time.
Sometimes, we stew in our own inner pot of emotions, that we can’t move forward, or even just step out of our own way.
Sound familiar? Yeah, same here. Especially lately.
Maybe if we both stop, and take a few breaths, we’ll find that we can extinguish a lot of useless wayward motion and the rogue emotions that come into play with a distracted or over-burdened mind.
That’s where mindfulness exercises come in.
Disclosure: I suck at anything that inches near meditation and am lucky to have a space to decompress when I’m making XIZOZU. But that almost accidental type of active-mediation method, while welcome, only goes so far. I have tried this more traditional mindfulness practice and though I still pretty much suck at it, I’m seeing positive results. One of them being less judgmental about whether or not I suck at it. 🙂
What are the Benefits of Mindfulness?
There are many. According to several studies, in addition to improving focus and mental agility, practicing mindfulness has also been shown to:
- Reduce Anxiety
- Reduce Implicit Age and Race Bias
- Impact Depression
- Increase body satisfaction
- Improve cognition
- Reduce brain distraction
There are also published studies that show concentrating on your breath can help you work through cravings, aid in addiction recovery and lower your physical stress levels and heart rate.
How Mindfulness Works
Our brain’s prefrontal cortex controls executive function: our attention. When the amygdala, the power switch for disturbing emotions like anger or anxiety, flips on, it essentially shuts down the prefrontal area. That’s why thinking is so much more difficult when we’re angry or anxious. If we can quiet our amygdala, our prefrontal areas can again be effective in focusing our attention. Practicing mindfulness, or meditating, can help you re-center that overactive brain of ours and help with our ability to manage our businesses, our families, our selves.
A Simple mindfulness exercise that you can do anywhere.
You don’t need to twist into the lotus position or climb to a rocky summit at twilight. You don’t even have to be in complete silence. Do this simple ten-minute session three or four times throughout your day wherever you can sit or even stand comfortably.
- Put everything aside and bring your full attention to your breath.
- Don’t try to control it—just sense the entire inhale and the entire exhale.
- If your mind wanders (it likely will) simply bring it back to your breathing and start over with the next breath.
That’s it. Mindfulness is not a quick fix. It can take time to corral your pre-disposition toward distractions, like your phone or the memory of an incident that upset you, but with enough practice you’re going to see some welcomed positive change in both your attention and you attitude.
Ready to give it a try? Why not now. Ten minutes. Go.
Whether you’re a newbie like me or a seasoned master. I’d love to hear about your experience in breathing through your thoughts. Tell us about your experience in the comments.