Ria came home from work tired and she wanted to watch a movie to wind-down. She got a bowl full of chips and sat down in front of the television. As she was watching the movie, she completed the bowl full of chips and also went for more. She also gulped down a can of cola at the same time. After the movie got over, she realized she does not have any space in her stomach for dinner. She skipped a healthy dinner that was freshly prepared and a tired Ria went off to sleep.
Who is responsible for this behavior here?
It is Ria’s mind!
She has not trained her mind to know what is unhealthy for her body and what is healthy, even though she regularly goes to the gym in the morning. Why is this unhealthy? She ate the chips mindlessly, without paying attention to how much and what she is eating.
In our busy lives, we end up doing many such things without paying mindful attention to the actions. As a result of this, we end up doing many activities in a wrong way or maybe in excess. Does this affect your health in an adverse way? Yes! So, can our mind help us to be healthier? Definitely yes! Being mindful in everything we do is one way of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. But what is mindfulness?
“Mindfulness is paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally”
- Jon Kabat-Zinn
Mindfulness as a concept has grown in the past decade. Though many are aware of this concept, not many apply it to their lives. Many techniques and practices can cultivate mindfulness in our daily lives. The benefits of mindfulness include:
1. Reduced stress
2. Growth in attention
3. Boost in working memory
4. Emotional control
5. Reduction in rumination.
There are areas in our lives where we can use mindfulness to develop a healthier and effective living. Let us see how does this way of looking at life, helps you maintain a healthy lifestyle:
1. Be mindful while working out: While exercising, don’t just lift weights till the end of the count your instructor gives you, be involved in every breath you inhale and exhale and every pain you feel while your muscle flexes. Mindfulness tells you to experience every bodily sensation to live in the moment. Even while running on the treadmill or while using an exercise cycle, allow your mind to focus and be aware of the impact running has on your breath and on your body. Don’t let your mind think about the song playing on the TV or on your iPod. If you think about what work has to be done after the workout, consciously allow your mind to pay attention to your breath, to get your attention to the present.
2. Become a mindful eater: Have you ever had a pastry right after a proper lunch, just because ‘it is tempting and looks delicious’? After a moment, have your regretted having a whole pastry? This is because at that point, you were not being mindful of your own stomach. You became mindless and ate the whole pastry just because it looked good, not because you are hungry. The temptations, you should remember, are only to satisfy your tongue and not your stomach. Being mindful does not mean avoiding the pastry, it just means eating how much your body requires.
3. Sleep mindfully: Checking your phone just because you have nothing to do before going to sleep? Does this affect your sleep? It does indeed! It is obvious you see something you don’t like on Facebook before sleeping and it helps you not fall asleep. We should prepare going to sleep like you want to rest. Relax your legs, hands and all the muscles of your body and prepare your body and mind to relax. Don’t just make sleeping a daily ritual. In fact, make resting a ritual that will allow you to sleep mindfully.
4. When at work, be at work; when at home…. Sending emails when you reach home? And thinking about work even while having the evening walk with your spouse? That does not help being attentive and could create unhealthy relationships because you may not be attentive to what your spouse just said. Likewise, being productive at work without the interference of an unrelated phone call is equally important. Being mindful increases productivity at workplace and also lets you keep work at workplace and home issues at home.
5. Practice mindfulness meditation : Practicing mindfulness based meditation helps you become mindful in your daily chores as well as work. It means taking out 10 minutes of your daily life to sit quietly and focus on your natural breathing. Mindfulness meditation doesn’t mean removing thoughts from your mind. In fact, which meditating it means allowing your thoughts to come and go without passing any judgments on it and redirecting your focus on your breathing.