Mindfulness is a very popular word right now and it should be! It’s amazing. If you Google it, you’ll get 198 million results. That’s a lot of people talking about mindfulness.
And it’s such a powerful tool that I love to redefine it as often as possible. What does ‘mindfulness’ mean to you? Take a moment and come up with a quick definition…
How do you define it? Here is what it means to me today: mindfulness is respectful interaction with reality. It’s the ability to find your own right rhythms as you interact with your world. In our culture, this usually means means a choice to slow ourselves down.
Whether it is stopping to smell the roses or doing Lamaze breathing, setting our phones down while talking to loved ones or savoring every bite of a Whopper, mindfulness is about honoring the humble, mundane details of being human: even the uncomfortable ones.
RETRAIN THE BRAIN
Did you know that you are programmed (through no fault of your own) to look for the negatives in every situation? Neuroscientists call it the ‘negativity bias’ and it is a gift, when channeled properly. Negativity Bias helps us identify possible dangers and areas of improvement. However, when it compromises our mindfulness by breaking down that respectful interaction with reality, it makes life unbearable. We become like a child surrounded by holiday presents but downcast because he got a stain on his shirt.
THE MINDFUL MINUTE
I want to introduce you to the mindful minute. Go ahead and press play on a pretty instrumental (“One Perfect Moment” by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross is my favorite!). Set a one-minute timer on your phone. Breathe at the pace you are currently breathing for one minute, without watching the clock. Keep track of the amount of breaths (an inhale plus an exhale equals one breath cycle). Notice without judgement how many you got on Minute One; when I first created this exercise for myself I was often in the twenties. Even when everything was safe and calm, my body was so adrenalized that my baseline respirations were the same as someone who had just run around a building.
Not it is time for Minute Two. Using the one-minute timer again, consciously slow your breathing down. Taking in as much as your lungs can comfortable hold on the inhales and releasing as much as comfortably possible on the exhales. One of the ways I like to enhance the relaxation response during Minute Two is to imagine a wave pulling slowly away from the shore on my inhale, then crashing on the exhale.
How was it? Did your second minute seem faster than the first? If not, try it again soon. I hope you feel more mindful and serene. Please try this a couple times a week and you will notice increased peace while using the tool. It won’t stop, there, though. The Mindful Minute changes the way you feel and the way your body functions even when you are not doing it. It changes your baseline experience of life! Believe it or not, sometimes good living is easy.
Please join us at H.O.P.E. Studio for a live workshop led by me, Matt Mintz. “Strength-based Mindfulness” will be on Saturday December 14th from 11:00am-12:00pm. We will do the Mindful Minute together as well as several other amazing mindfulness tools.
Peace be with you all!