Some of the most fascinating research being conducted in the field of “Wellness” is in the topic of “Mindfulness”.
In fact, we are seeing some pretty amazing health benefits achieved by simply practicing “Mindfulness”. These benefits include reduced stress, improved immune system, reduced depression, improved sleep, decreased blood pressure and more.
This is great news for our overall health and well-being right?
But it does beg the question – What is Mindfulness?
This is a good and perplexing question. When doing the research for my book, I found that definitions vary from the very deepest Zen philosophy to simple meditative breath work.
For the purposes of general health and wellness, I think it is easiest to reframe the concept of “mindfulness” to what I like to call Mindful Awareness.
Here is my definition of Mindful Awareness
To keenly observe at all times what is happening with your environment, your thoughts and actions as well as the feelings and actions of those around you – without making judgments.
Ha! At first glance this sounds more daunting than Zen Mindfulness! In my book, From Overwhelmed to Inspired, I walk you through this idea and how - with a little effort- you can achieve this in your daily life.
Today however, I want to talk about why mindful awareness is so effective and so important to you and to all those you care about.
With the phenomenal abilities researchers now have to measure the elaborate communication systems in our bodies, we now know that our bodies – particularly the heart, brain and gut- are incredible producers of electromagnetic waves. In fact, all of nature is capable of generating electromagnetic impulses.
Ok – so what do this have to do with Mindful Awareness and my health?
In one of my most favorite books, The Secret Teaching of Plants, Stephen Buhner explains that these electromagnetic waves can be likened to radio waves. You might imagine a radio or cell tower that is emitting pulsing energy waves that contain encoded information. Your radio has the ability to search for a specific frequency to find the station you are looking for. Your radio is tuned-in with or entrained with the frequency of the radio tower’s waves.
Now imagine that you yourself are the radio tower. You are constantly emitting these electromagnetic waves. The nature of these waves is based on your emotions, your thoughts, and your perceptions. Because you are your own radio tower, other people (yes, even animals and plants) can “tune in” to your station and entrain with you.
We observe this all the time among people who share a strong emotional attachment. For example the calming affect that occurs when a mother nurses her baby, the coinciding of breathing when a couple sleeps next to one another, or even hearts that begin to tune in to one another and beat at the same rate.
Now let’s take a moment to check in with how you are feeling today.
Are you feeling calm, serene, peaceful, pleasant, poised? Or do you have a sense of edginess, anxiety, frustration, fear, agitation or anger?
If we go back to our radio analogy and tune in to current events, which often seem inescapable these days, you might notice that our radios are picking up A LOT of STATIC. This noise we encounter can actually impact our personal perceptions, emotions and stress levels. When our radios become tuned into this energy, the static we encounter is then broadcast outward from our own radio tower, essentially amplifying the noise.
I am here to tell you, this is not healthy. It is destructive to your personal sense of security and well-being.
You can change this. You can do it without taking a meditation class, or a course in mindfulness. You don’t even have to read my book… Or at least until you do, here are 3 simple tips to help you reduce the static and get back to that peaceful calming station that makes you feel at ease.
- Turn it off. Take frequent and lengthy breaks from the news, from electronic stimulation and noise that does not come from nature itself. Silence really can be golden.
- Breathe. When we are tense, stressed, angry or agitated our breath becomes shallow and often more rapid. This effects everything from our energy and mood to digestion. Take a few time-outs during the day to breathe deeply into your belly. Then allow your breath to expand your side ribs and back ribs. Really fill up your torso. Then let that breath go with a big deep exhalation. Try this a few times until you can let your breath settle like gentle waves on a quiet beach.
- Judge not. This is the hardest one. We all tend to form opinions about behaviors and actions of others. Most of the time when we are judging, we are not doing it with kindness and compassion. The resulting emotions from negative judgments include depressed immune function, increased weight, increased blood pressure, depression, anxiety and more. So even if you feel righteous in your judgment, you are not only hurting yourself, but as we have seen with our radio analogy, you are also impacting the energy of those who “tune-in” to you, most notably your loved ones.
We can’t control the static that is being generated by forces outside of ourselves. But we can learn to change the station. As we become more mindfully aware of the noise, we can make a conscious effort to create our own station – one that broadcasts kindness, compassion, respect and well-being. Whenever you feel your antenna wanting to tune into the static, remember these 3 tips: Turn it off, Breathe, Judge not. They will help you regain control of your feelings, influence how you respond to your environment and create a channel of unspoken communication that will allow others to find comfort in tuning in to your broadcast of well-being.
Until next time,
P.S. The book is just around the corner. Just in time for the holidays or New Years Resolutions!