BY ADELLE LaBRECQUE
Staff Writer, UAS Whalesong
1. the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.
“their mindfulness of the wider cinematic tradition”
2. a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.
Aloha, readers. If by chance, you just quickly skimmed the above definition, (as we tend to do when writing appears to lack creativity—no offense, Google Dictionary!), I strongly encourage you to read it through once more, with added emphasis on the second definition.
Next, I ask that you inhale through your nose, and on the exhale, notice how your body feels in the present moment. Maybe you want to take a second deep breath, perhaps even a third. How does your body feel right now? Are you tense? Is your body “closed-up?” Are important topics weighing at you mentally, even while you read this article? Maybe you didn’t even realize you were tense until just now. Exhale once more, and keep surveying your body. Maybe you’re sitting at a computer, in a hunched position, straining your eyes while reading the screen. If you’re reading the newspaper version of this article, notice if you are slouching as your read, and especially, take note of if your neck feels tense. Allow yourself to inhale deeply, and on the exhale, feel your chest, neck, and shoulders relax.
Throughout the day, it’s natural for us to tense our bodies as a physical reaction to stress. However, we can do it so often, and for such long periods of time, that we don’t even realize how tense we really are in the present moment. In fact, many of us generally struggle to remain in the “present moment,” if we are being truthful with ourselves. We’re thinking of deadlines, of work, of classes, of sleep, of cooking dinner later on…the list goes continues! In one of her numerous published guided meditations, Sharon Smith states, “We often find that the most difficult thing to do is stay in the present moment. Not thinking of the past, and not anticipating the future,” (Best Guided Meditations, January 15, 2016). And gracious, ain’t it the truth! Some days in my own life, I feel like I may as well be sleepwalking! However, the good news is that “re-centering” ourselves, can literally be as simple as meditating for a few minutes each day. It requires no money, no expensive prescription—just our minds, our focused breath, and our intention to mediate.
Mediation is an ancient, holistic form of focused deep breathing, can clear our minds of everyday dirty laundry,” improve recollection, assist in emotional healing from trauma, and even “accelerate the body’s physical healing,” (ASAP Science, The Scientific Power of Meditation, January 18th, 2015). One study in particular stated that mediation “physically changes our brain shape and size…After eight weeks of a meditation program, grey matter was more dense in areas associated with learning, memory processing, and emotion regulation,” (ASAP Science). When was the last time you experimented with meditation? Do you have specific goals related to improving your health? Maybe you’d like to eat healthier? Or maybe you’d like to exercise more often, or just have extra time to relax in the evenings once in a while. Take a moment to do a quick inventory of the activities that hinder you from engaging in these things and “mediate” on them—pun intended. Close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, and relax your body. If you have time to wake up, check-in on social media, drink your morning coffee, eat breakfast, take a shower, go to the store, or even fall asleep—you have time to mediate. It’s truly that time efficient, that simple, and worth the benefits.
If you are using a computer, I strongly encourage you click on this link, right now: https://youtu.be/Qxg5q0Uw7QM. If you are feeling stress, it will likely help to quell your nerves, as well as help many folks realize how “out of the present moment” they may have actually been, prior to listening.
There are countless books, articles, and studies published sharing the various health benefits gained from mediation and the topic of “mindfulness.” I personally enjoy watching videos on the subject, and especially listening to audio books while I complete other tasks, such as washing the dishes, doing the laundry, or vacuuming—I might as well be entertained while I do housework!
As always readers, I send you positivity and warm thoughts, and encourage you to share your knowledge with others—especially to those loved ones in need of healing. It is truly remarkable, just how far that positive ripple effect can go.