The term mindfulness is the act of staying present in each moment. This has been shown to be helpful for balancing mood as it decreases anxiety and worrying about the future as well as the prevention of being too stuck in the past. I would also like to discuss ways being mindful can help in our daily lives.
Have you ever thought to yourself that you wished you were more organized or less forgetful? How about looking around your desk at work or your home, is it full of clutter? The same would go for your computer and email as well as your phone — is it also full of junk mail? Being mindful is the act of staying present, being aware of your surroundings and noticing new things without judgment. I encourage you to once a week, clear your surrounding of clutter. Do laundry, straighten up the house, throw out old mail, it will also clear your mind of clutter. When you have clarity of mind you will feel more balanced and peaceful. I truly believe that your surroundings are an extension of yourself, so try to take care of them just as you would care for someone you love.
The next thing is to clear your mind of any negative thoughts, especially regarding yourself or others. If you make a mistake or something is not going well in your life, do you get down on yourself? I really think that being kind inside your mind can help flip your perspective on situations that aren’t seemingly working out in your favor. Imagine right now, a situation that isn’t ideal and imagine that it is already fixed. When you put positive thoughts into the universe, it will come back to you. This is also true with health, if you imagine yourself whole healthy and healed, your body can follow your mind.
The brain heals in “theta wave” state. To get to this, you must do something relaxing. I often tell patients to pick something that relaxes them such as yoga, a hot bath with epsom salts, massage, meditation or acupuncture. If you are constantly stuck in “fight or flight,” your nervous system is on alert and you will feel jittery or anxious. Switching to the more relaxed parasympathetic state “rest and digest” can improve sleep, help digestion and repair the nervous system. If you are new to meditation, try a guided visualization exercise even for 10 minutes at a time. Meditating and being mindful takes practice and over time it will become more natural and easy to do.
The last point I will make about mindfulness is how to train your body to stay more grounded. When you connect with nature or with the ground it can help make you feel more calm, and take you out of your racing thoughts. Right now, feel your feet flat on the floor, sit all the way back in your chair and relax your shoulders. Use your five senses to look around the room and notice something new, what do you see, hear, or feel in the air? Now, pay attention to any thoughts that you are thinking right now and let them be, it’s ok to try not to resolve them. Do you feel more relaxed already? A guided meditation can actually help you close your eyes and visit a relaxing place in your mind that you can actually practice at anytime. I hope these tips help you connect your body and mind and live a more peaceful lifestyle.
Dr. Allison Apfelbaum is a naturopathic primary care doctor in Woodinville. To learn more go to www.treeofhealthmedicine.com or call 425-408-0040.