Whether you are a skeptic or a long-time practitioner, the experience of stress, being overwhelmed, in conflict, anxious or just being sick and tired of the way things are, is a universal to all of us. How one handles stress, anxiety, fear is up to us individually. It is ultimately our choice. Regardless of the exhaustive research that supports the effectiveness of mindfulness for improved health, increased productivity or its ability to reduce conflict, we all come to new ideas with a certain resistance/ skepticism that these outcomes will happen to me.
Top 4 Practical Applications of Mindfulness
- Feeling overwhelmed.
- Anxiety or Fear
- Feeling sick and tired of the way things are
This is a factor of not being present with what is actually happening.
When our thoughts start to spin out about how I need to get this done, or what if that happens, we tend to lose sight of reality, what is actually happening right now.
Bringing our self-back to what is actually happening in this minute immediately resets us to a more peaceful calm state of being. To be honest, how often do all those thoughts of what might happen or how it needs to be in order to be “right” actually happen as we have planned it in our head. Being present and allowing life to unfold as a mystery takes practice, but leads to increased happiness with what is. Productivity is directly proportionate to how present we are. How much do you get done when you are worried, overwhelmed or in a fragmented state trying to figure it all out?
Conflict creates a fight flight or freeze response in our nervous system.
Deliberately changing our breathing pattern to long slow deep full breaths initiates the relaxation response bringing our nervous system back into balance. The physical shift in our body is felt quickly, as the mind slows with the breath, returning the heart beat to an natural rhythm. When in conflict we react emotionally and without reason. When relaxed we make calm conscious decisions. Do not underestimate the power of mindfulness when in conflict. Applying this technique is the first step in taking responsibility for your personal well-being and your success.
Fear and anxiety can creep up on us out of the blue. Someone can say something, a place can trigger a feeling, even a bad dream can get you stuck in a fearful state of mind. Learning to relax when edgy is a life skill we all could benefit from. Relaxing at will is a mindfulness technique that comes especially in handy in relationships. When we are anxious or fearful this energy can be felt by others, and affects others. When others are anxious it many times affects us. Cultivating the ability to remain relaxed in any situation allows us to be present and compassionate with our self and others.
Create an intention (a direction) for your life, or your day. Fuel it with an energy or desire to attain this. When fear or anxiety arise, deliberately choose to focus 100% of your attention on your intention – fueling it with your desire. Shifting your attention to something you have passion to create within you, allows all of your energy to be released from the negativity and fear. Using an intention reduces negative self-talk which allows for relaxation and positivity.
Sick and Tired
Ever get sick and tired of something in your life. Whether it’s a constant feeling of not being good enough, the kids being defiant, or your boss or spouse not listening or appreciate you? Whatever it is, it never seems to change. Needing things to be different than they are creates immense anxiety and upset within us. Trying to change things externally just never seems to work in certain situations.
Try turning your focus inward. Search out a sensation in your body. This could be your breath – noticing the fact that you are breathing. It could be looking non-judgmentally at your tummy, your chest, your throat. And just seeing what is there. Make no comments or labels on what you are seeing. Just look. And keep looking. Watch to see if it changes. Learn to listen and hear your body. Bring all of your awareness to what you are feeling. Moving from thinking to feeling creates an opening, a space of allowing things to be as they are.
Cultivating an acceptance, an allowing shifts our natural tendency of needing things to different to being okay with what is. In this place of surrender/allowing things to be as they are, miraculous shifts can happen opening entirely new ways of seeing, new perspectives. To really see we must stop wanting things to be different. Allowing creates powerful shifts in your view of the world and how you engage in it. This makes us more accepting, more adaptable and ultimately much more successful.
Overall, mindfulness allows us to change from the inside out. It allows us to see things in a new light, take our colored glasses off (reducing bias, and self-destructive behavior patterns). The practice changes how we see our self, which changes how we see the world around us.