Hello and welcome back guys. I remember in my last blog post I was eager to promote mindfulness to you as a great solution. I suggested you learn the nature of anchors first. My reason for this was because I wanted to give you a strong foundation to build upon.
Before I explore the benefits I want to give a recap on how you use an anchor in practice. Generally, it involves you choosing something to focus on with only your senses. It could be a particular sound you hear, something you see or feel in your body. It is not necessary to concentrate on your anchor, just notice it with a light sense of curiosity. When you sense your mind drifting away, allow it to do so. Then when you are ready return back to your anchor.
When you eventually get familiar with this practice it will improve the relationship between your thinking world and your sensing world. As a result, moving from thinking to sensing will become a smoother transition.
During my time at university I attended some workshops for mindfulness. We often used physical objects as anchors in order to have something tangible to focus on until eventually we didnt need them. Eventually with more practice you start to become more sensitive to how your body feels.
For example, I started to notice which of my body parts were tired or sore, which then prompted me to relax my body a bit more. It also snapped me out of autopilot and made me aware of various subtle feelings such as lack of energy, and tension in my stomach or throat. Therefore in this alert state of mind I felt motivated to make small changes to my diet.
For example, drinking lemon ginger tea became a new habit for me in the mornings. It also served a great opportunity to practise mindfulness whilst drinking it. I have to say it was like I regrew a fresh new set of taste buds. As I drank the lemon ginger tea more slowly I could track the journey the tea travelled from my mouth into my stomach. I didn’t do this mentally but through just noticing the feeling and allowing myself to keep my attention on it. The result was I enjoyed the tea even more and it boosted my mood more substantially.
Looking after physical needs is important, since the mind and body are connected. The fact that our nervous system follows along the centre of our bodies as well as the brain, shows that our mind is not limited to the brain.
We infact have neurons wrapped around our organs too, which can explain that “gut feeling” we have. Because of this I believe we must make an effort to keep our bodies healthy in order to keep our mind healthy.
It is upto you on what you decide to change to look after your physical health. What I recommend for you is to really pay attention to what your body feels, through mindful body scanning. After this practice hopefully it will help you to generally get a feel of whether or not you need a significant change in your diet. If you always feel low in energy remember this can effect your mental health.
Physical exercise is one thing I would definitely recommend. It is a known fact that exercise improves wellbeing. However, little is known about the relationship between mindfulness and exercise. In my dissertation I conducted a literature review on mindfulness, concentration exercises, and cardio performance. Interestingly enough in past research, there were accounts that mindful practice improved sports performance outcomes in many different sports.
What was also fascinating to hear was a state of mind called “flow” that is achieved when a player has mastered their sport and is performing flawlessly and effortlessly whilst experiencing a sense of fulfillment and calm. Sounds very uplifting and enlightening to me!
I wonder how many athletes in this year’s olympics will use mindfulness to assist their performance….
At any rate I hope you enjoy using mindfulness to add value to your physical/mental wellbeing. I also wish for you to try and implement mindfulness more into your day to day lives in whatever way is comfortable for you.
Stay happy, healthy, and strong folks.