Most of us go through life on auto-pilot, and we react to situations based on our past experiences. Our thoughts have been programmed from a young age. We come into the world a clean slate, and everything that we encounter codes our brain to respond a certain way. We tend to listen to ideas that confirm our longstanding beliefs, and push away new information that we have not been taught. Can we be open and change to create the life we want?
An ancient Buddhist practice called mindfulness is gaining momentum in the Western world. It has nothing to do with religion, but everything to do with waking up and consciously living our lives. We are all so busy multi-tasking, and receiving constant stimuli, that we are not slowing down enough to live our lives with intention, and purpose. Mindfulness and meditation connect us to ourselves, and invite us to examine our thoughts in a non-judgmental, compassionate way. When we become an observer of our thoughts, we can take an unbiased look at what is really happening in our lives without getting caught up in the stories we tell ourselves. We need to be curious about our self-talk and inquire about longstanding beliefs.
Mindfulness also brings us back to the present moment. The past is the past, And the future hasn’t happened yet. If we get stuck ruminating about the past, we tend to get depressed. If we are fearful and worrying about the future, we get anxious. However, when we focus on the task at hand, we can be fully present without missing anything and quiet the chatter of the mind.
How do you stay connected to the present and train your brain to do this? When you are doing the dishes, focus on the dishes. When you are playing golf, focus on the game, not your to do list or your kids. When you’re eating, taste every bite instead of mindlessly eating a whole bag of chips. Slow down and focus on the things you do every day, but never pay any attention. In addition, you can try a few minutes a day focusing on the inflow and outflow of your breath. This will train your brain to bring you back to the present and enable you to appreciate every moment. You don’t want to ask yourself at the end of your days, where did all the time go?
*To contact Jodi: firstname.lastname@example.org. www.jodibaretz.com
Jodi Baretz, LCSW, HHC will be presenting on April 1, 2014, Tuesday, from 5:30 – 6:30 PM for the Fibromyalgia/Chronic Pain/Wellness Support Group : Mindfulness for Pain Relief and Stress Reduction. Location: Physical Therapy at Briarcliff/ Inside Club Fit Conference Room. Please call to register for this free program at (914) 762 – 2222 X 0 or visit our website at www.ptrehab.com