An Invitation To Experiment
Studies reveal that mindful awareness practice builds our courage to approach rather than withdraw from challenges. This subjective finding correlates with an increase of electrical activity in the left frontal cortex after mindfulness meditation. The left hemisphere of our cortex is responsible for our ability to approach or advance while the right is responsible for withdrawal or avoidance. The ability to approach challenges is one of the key factors in resiliency.
I'd like to offer a quick and easy experiment with mindfulness. If you have just a few minutes, read through this and then give it a try.
First, close your eyes and just notice your breathing, your own natural rhythm of each breath. For a minute or so just breathe as you normally do and with each inhale and again with each exhale think to yourself "breathing," keeping rhythm with each in and out breath. If your mind wonders away from the word "breathing," gently resume when you take notice.
Next, continue breathing as you normally do but rather than repeat the word "breathing," repeat the word "hearing." Repeat "hearing" silently with each in breath and each out breath for about a minute, again gently returning to "hearing" if your mind wonders.
After repeating "hearing" for a minute, continue breathing normally and silently repeat "sensing" with each in breath and each out breath for another minute, with gentle reminders to return to "sensing" if needed.
Lastly, as you continue to breathe as you normally do, silently repeat "thinking" for about a minute. You might notice by this time that you're simply noticing your mind as it does its usual thing; thinking.
Hopefully during this short demonstration you noticed that when you silently repeat the word "breathing," you're focused on your in and out breath; when you repeat "hearing" your sense of sound becomes sharper, perhaps noticing the tiny nuances of sound that normally pass by unnoticed; with "sensing" you might have noticed a wrinkle in your sock or an itch on your nose; and with "thinking" suddenly thoughts were popping up, perhaps making it difficult to pin down just one.
The awareness of our senses while not being attached to any of them and being able to silence or amplify as desired, is mindfulness. At our disposal we have the ability to redirect our thoughts, even when we're prone to rumination, one of the largest contributors of depression. We literally change the shape of our brain as we practice directing and redirecting our thoughts. With mindful awareness practice we're forging courage and confidence to overcome challenges and resiliency to enjoy life.
This exercise took less than five minutes. Where will you find five minutes each day to practice intentionally directing your thoughts to nourish the skill of mindfulness?
Learner and sharer of all things healthy, active, esteem building, growth promoting, witty and Hawaiian