Oh well, so many things need to be done in our lifes. Be successful in your job, have children, stay young, fit and dynamic, and be always on top of the latest trends. E-mails need to be replied to within minutes and the smartphone is your best friend. There are people who even stare at it while working out and who have it next to their bed, just in case someone important will call at midnight. I get angry when people run into me in the streets because they stare at their mobile phones. No time for breakfast, luckily we have „coffee to go“, which saves us so much time in the morning (I don´t even want to talk about the environmental aspect of all that plastic rubbish). Multitasking has become a trend, which, in my opinion, often results in less quality since you focus on so many different things at the same time. I (and I consider myself a „social media junkie“) have set up a few rules for myself: never use a smartphone when I am eating or exercising (at least). And - needless to say - that the little thing never makes its way into my sleeping-room.
To be clear - I am not at all against a healthy ambitiousness. We need, of course, to exercise and also test our limits from time to time. There is no doubt about this. However, to slow down and enjoying the present, rather than thinking about the future without all those negative thoughts which take so much of our time, is likewise important, extremely important. I admit that this is not always easy. You need patience and time.
Mindfulness has become a trendy term which is sometimes overused. It means so much more than paying attention or looking at something. We are so busy with things that happened in our past or anxiety about our future. Mindfulness means instead to focus on the NOW, to become conscious about the moment. And why is this so important? Because it serves our well-being and even our health. Jon Kabat-Zinn, founder of the „Stress Reduction Clinic“, has recognized many years ago that practicing mindfulness helps to manage stressful situations and, as a result, can reduce physical and mental pain.
As a first step, mindfulness means to focus on the moment and the activity I am just carrying out. For me, breathing is extremely important in this context. How often do we notice that we are just breathing superficially! Just take a few deep breaths here and there, in particular in stressful situations or when you are mad about someone. Instead of writing a nasty e-mail right away (which you may regret later), just take a deep breath, preferably outside, and slow down. For me, practicing yoga twice or three times a week always reminds me of correct breathing. I also take a few minutes after my (sometimes demanding) „asanas“ (exercises) to meditate a few minutes.
Inspired by the book „Der Selbstheilungscode“ (The code for self-healing) by Tobias Esch, a German doctor and health researcher, I now take a little time for some daily meditation. No worries, you don´t have to go into a monastery and meditation is nothing detached at all. A quiet place at home is sufficient to meditate for a few minutes. I admit that the focus on the current moment without any disturbing thoughts is not that easy. It requires some practice. And if you really want it, you will find a few minutes in your hectic daily schedule. Just switch off your phones, laptop and TV, sit or lie down (I prefer the latter), close your eyes, breathe consciously and try not to think of anything. Thoughts will come to your mind, this is absolutely normal and not a problem. Many of these thoughts may be negative, try to let them go. A yoga teacher has once described this in a great way: „Put your thoughts on a cloud and push that cloud away.“ The so-called body-scan may help – breathe into your body parts, beginning with your head, going down slowly until you reach your feet. Imagine you are breathing into these individual body parts.
And why all this? Research has revealed that mindfulness reduces stress and in the best case, it can even reduce pain and improve your health. Latest research proves that positive emotions and relaxation – apart from a balanced nutrition and exercise – can help to reduce chronical health problems such as asthma and back pain.
Mindfulness also reinforces your soul. Watch – accept – let go is the principle. What does that mean? Don´t think too much about negative things of your past, you cannot change them anymore. Make peace with yourself, get rid of a feeling of guilt and negative old stuff.
„Above all, mindfulness is great for your sense of self and self-regulation and, in a literal sense, for your self-confidence. This includes an improved cognition of your body and your control of emotions and attention. All this contributes to boosting your personal health“, says Tobias Esch.
My little contribution about mindfulness is not supposed to be a directory. After all, I am not a doctor or therapist. I just wanted to motivate you to look into this exciting subject. Get some books about mindfulness – Jon Kabat-Zinn has published many. You will find a few English publications of Tobias Esch here.
I have published a few articles on related topics, have a look:
Wishing you all the best – and ... be mindful!