“Get out of your head and into your heart. Think less, feel more.” Osho
I used to joke that I didn’t even have time to notice the roses, let alone smell them! I wasn’t alone. We rush from activity to activity, frantically crossing items from our to do lists, multi-tasking, racing against time.
Mindfulness has been a tool to enable me to step off the treadmill of life and live in the moment. While it remains a work in progress, the effects are life-changing.
What is mindfulness? It is a way of being. Jon Kabat Zinn describes it as ‘paying attention, in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment and nonjudgmentally’.
When we are mindful, we are fully present.
Here are 7 simple ways that mindfulness can help you to transform your life.
1. Increase your enjoyment of your favorite foods and reduce your calories - It sounds like magic doesn’t it? Many of us eat while we’re doing something else, whether it is reading the newspaper or catching up online. As one of the world’s fastest eaters, even after indulging in a treat, I would often have no memory of having eaten more than the first bite.
Using mindfulness I could savor every mouthful and really immerse myself in the experience of eating. I found my enjoyment of the experience went through the roof and ironically I didn’t need as much, automatically reducing my calories. Double win.
2. You may discover that you don’t even LIKE your favorite treat -I’ve been a chocaholic forever. However, when I slowed down and ate chocolate mindfully, I found it too sweet and it left a heavy, rich aftertaste in my mouth that I didn’t like. Amazing. Try it with the tiniest piece of your favorite treat. What does it smell like, how does it feel on your tongue? What does it REALLY taste like? Does the taste change over time? Do you feel differently about your favorite treat now?
3. Using mindfulness you may realize that while you thought that you wanted food, you actually need something else - Comfort eating is a normal part of life and most of us do it to some degree or another. But it can be a big source of extra calories and we aren’t really giving our bodies what they need because we haven’t taken the time to listen to them. By being mindful and ‘checking in’, I would often find that instead of food, I wanted something quite different. Perhaps to step off the world for 10 or 15 minutes and put my feet up with a coffee and my favorite magazine.
In being mindful, we have the opportunity to nurture our beautiful bodies with what they really need, instead of stuffing them full of extra calories and carrying on regardless.
4. Stress less -Mindfulness gives us an opportunity to step away from the thinking mind – the stories, the drama, the anxiety, the worry. Perhaps we’re rehashing an old argument or worrying needlessly about an imagined future. Living in the present moment, free from judgment, we know peace.
5. Body awareness -In our stressful, busy lives,we give little thought to our bodies. Our breathing is shallow, rapid and inefficient. Our muscles are tense. We continue on blissfully unaware. Mindfulness brings our attention to our bodies. We can breathe deeper, slower. We can relax our shoulders and correct our posture. We can listen to our body’s natural wisdom.
6. Enhance our relationship with people – It is difficult to really connect with people when we are caught up worrying about the future or rehashing the past. Being mindful we might notice that the woman on the checkout is looking sad and take the time to brighten her day. We’ve all been in the company of someone whose gift is to make us feel that we are the only person in the whole world. In being present and connecting with others, we become like that. Our relationships benefit because we take the time to be really present with those we love.
7. Notice life’s simple joys -Whether it is the way the dew glistens on a spider web or the clean, fresh smell of morning, life is in high definition. Clearer. Sharper. Sweeter.
Life is the present moment. Mindfulness is a tool to allow us to really live.
Claire Kerslake is a health coach, registered nurse and credentialed diabetes educator who is the founder of Loving Life With Diabetes, a website and blog where you’ll find the motivation, inspiration and support to help you create healthy habits in your life. She developed the online program Renew, so you can release weight, cultivate health and create wellness in your life.