Mindfulness: Are you living in the present moment?

Do you ever feel like you are drifting from moment to moment without a real attachment to each experience? This can happen as we are so busy with work, school, and/or family that each passing event seems like a mundane task versus a unique instance in our lives. As John Dixit further explains, “When we’re at work, we fantasize about being on vacation; on vacation, we worry about the work piling up on our desks. We dwell on intrusive memories of the past or fret about what may or may not happen in the future. We don’t appreciate the living present because our mind likes to vault from thought to thought like monkeys swinging from tree to tree.” If this rings true for you in some form or fashion, it’s time to reevaluate how your mental health is impacted by the “busyness” of life and make changes that will help you have a more enriched existence.

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I really noticed this distraction phenomenon in my life once I was promoted to an administrator. My entire work day seemed to float by without me even knowing what really happened. I was busy from the time I stepped into my office until I ended my work day, which was usually 10-12 hours. I rarely left the office to eat lunch and during my worse days, I lost focus because I would try to complete every task or solve every issue all at the same time. I eventually developed what I like to call work induced ADD which admittedly trickled into my personal life. It created a sense of disconnect and monotony. It almost felt like I was a robot simply charging along. Ultimately, I was in need of reprogramming.

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Photo credit: Cauldrons & Cupcakes

Earlier, we presented tips to mentally help as you continue your journey toward really loving yourself. These are all very useful activities that will allow you to keep a pulse on your mental health status. Mindfulness is also another profound practice that has positive mental, spiritual and physical benefits. Mindfulness is the art of truly being present, moment-by-moment, to your thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and your immediate surroundings. Jon Kabat-Zinn, founder of Mindful Based Stress Reduction Program in University of Massachusetts Medical Center explains that “Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way–On purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.” It essentially involves doing activities that encourage the practice of being present without distractions.

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Mindfulness activities can include formal mediation, but it can also be incorporated into activities like taking a shower, eating, brushing your teeth, exercising, or any other routine daily tasks.   For example, being mindful while showering would include noticing how the water hits your body, being aware of your physical actions like how you use the bar soap or wash your hair, and your breathing patterns. If your mind wanders off to what you plan to do after the shower or the many tasks you have to accomplish at work, you bring your mind back to the present moment and focus only on taking a shower.   It sounds simple, but you will be surprised how many times you will have to redirect your mind to focus only on the present. There are several other examples that will help you live a mindful-based life. Aetna has a month long challenge, #Mindful30, which serves as a great resource with tips on how to add mindfulness to your daily routines.

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Photo credit: Gainesville Scene

We are living in a society with an increasing number of distractions, so you can find yourself aimlessly on life’s journey without true direction or focus. None of us have the luxury of wasting time. Your greatest possession is the 24 hours you have in a day, so manage it accordingly and be present for every second of it. Incorporating mindfulness activities can have long lasting positive mental, spiritual, and physical effects. It’s been noted to boost immune system, increase positive emotions, improve memory and focus, and enhance relationships. Therefore, it is an excellent way to broaden your perspective, be present, and experience a more fulfilled life.

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