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Sunday, January 24, 2016

Mindfulness - Stillness

h.koppdelaney, Flickr

"If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, 
live in the moment, live in the breath." 
(Amit Ray)

Did you slow something down this week? I hope you were able to give yourself the gift of a more reasonable pace. As we slow down our movements, the hamster wheel in our head also tends to slow down. That allows a growing awareness to come to the surface, which in turn helps us make better decisions: 

  1. We finish one thing before moving on to the next (in our actions but also in thought), which brings about better results and lower stress levels
  2. We feel a simple need before it becomes overwhelming, and fulfill it right away: thirst, hunger, fatigue, and even the need to use the washroom
  3. We notice that we are feeling tense, uneasy, and that it translates into our mood (irritable), body posture (furrowed eyebrows, clenched jaws or fists, raised shoulders), and breath (shallow and fast) - we regain power over those manifestations of stress, the next step being the recognition and tackling of what caused that stress (A thought? An event? The presence of a person?)
  4. We realize that we need a break before things get worse: we go to bed earlier instead of carrying exhaustion from one day to the next; we apply ice to an injury before inflammation sets in; we tackle a budding migraine immediately; we allow ourselves a moment to reflect on a stressful situation
  5. We avoid conflict by being present to the real issues at play instead of reacting impulsively and "taking things personal": we know it's not always "about us", but rather about an unfulfilled need or a discomfort that belongs to our interlocutor - seeing things from that angle helps us keep our calm

The magic thing about slowing down is that it eventually leads to the ability to experience stillness. That stillness itself doesn't have to last very long. What matters more than its duration is the quality of that stillness. Here are some examples:

  1. We can pause during a conversation and really listen to what others are saying instead of planning our next response
  2. We can pause during a meal and really savour what we're eating
  3. We can pause when interacting with nature and appreciate its beauty - it can be as simple as the song of a bird as you step outside, the colors in the sky, the smell of a flower, or even a ray of light coming into the house - nature is right outside the window but we often ignore it
  4. We can pause while music plays, and give it our full attention
  5. We can pause during a hug and feel our "heart melt"
  6. We can pause during a stretch to feel how good it is for our muscles
  7. We can simply pause for a few deep breaths

Even a short pause, if it is made of true stillness, is often enough to "reset" our mind and body. Will you try it this week?

Mindfulness this Week

This week, find moments to take a real pause and be still, even if it was only for a minute or two. If you give yourself that gift, I am certain that you will feel the difference. Then share about your discoveries!

Be part of the process: 

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  1. It's hard to slow down and turn off.....I'm working on it.

    1. I find that sitting, closing your eyes and taking a few deep breaths really helps. Good luck Delores! :-)

  2. Julie, I love the post. It is a nice reminder. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Ive really really really been working to focus on the conversation pausing and LISTENING more than I talk.

  4. Perhaps the medical version of this is, the first thing to do in an emergency is to take your own pulse!

    1. Haha. :-) Well, if you are still enough, you will feel or hear your pulse without even trying.