As you are making the New Year’s Resolutions, consider adding meditation and mindfulness into your new routines. Because the mind and body are connected and just as important to yourself as the gym.
What is mindfulness? Mindfulness in its most basic form is simply paying attention to what’s happening right now without being so caught up in whether or not what’s happening right now is what we expected or hoped for – just being present without judgement.
Mindfulness can be practiced “formally” or “informally”. The informal practice of mindfulness is just how we live our lives…do we taste the food we are eating, really hear the person we’re talking to, see the colors of the sunset, feel the warm water when we take a shower, etc. The formal practice is meditation. That’s where we step out of “doing” anything and settle into a few moments of deeper focus so we can stabilize the mind. Meditation for even a few minutes a day has been shown to have health benefits and can help us to actually show up for all the other moments of our life.
Research has shown that mindfulness can offer numerous benefits to physical and emotional health as well as improved focus, attention, overall sense of well-being and happiness. Mindfulness is appropriate for anybody and, in fact, mindfulness skills are taught to children in some school settings to help them deal with the stressors and distractions they encounter and improve their ability to focus and manage stress.
Many of us set goals or intentions for the new year like “eat better” or “get more exercise” or “get more sleep” or “improve my health.” Mindfulness helps us to tune in to what’s really going on with our bodies. So much of our eating or behavioral choices end up being mindless or things that we do on autopilot. For example, how often do we grab something out of the fridge and plop in front of the TV without really even thinking about it? Mindfulness allows us to make conscious choices. Like what do I really want to eat, watch, do? We notice more clearly how we feel as we change eating and activity patterns, we can identify “triggers” for mindless activities and choose to engage in actions that actually address what we’re feeling or wanting. Studies have shown that practicing mindfulness can improve sleep and overall health and well-being.
You could start practicing mindfulness today by simply stopping for a few minutes to take some deep breaths and focusing on your own breathing – bringing the mind back when it wanders. But for more information, there are a number of books and apps that can be useful. The Intermountain website: www.intermountainmindfulness.org offers a number of suggestions for books and apps as well as other resources. There are also classes available specifically developed to learn mindfulness skills which can be extremely useful in starting a mindfulness practice.
Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) classes which are the most heavily researched and evidence-based class which teaches mindfulness skills are offered at a number of locations including through Intermountain. Intermountain offers these classes — taught by qualified teachers — through their Live Well Centers and registration is available now online by visiting the website: www.intermountainmindfulness.org These classes are available in Ogden, Salt Lake, Park City, Provo and St. George.
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