BE HERE NOW
The concept is simple. We all know that you cannot change the past and you ultimately do not control the future. The only moment you will ever have any semblance of “control” over is THIS moment. Yet that does not stop any of us from stress, worry, or guilt; all emotions that can negatively affect the health of our “bodies,” which include mental, emotional and/or physical. And frankly those emotions require A LOT more energy than simply stopping, breathing, and allowing yourself to be in the moment. There’s that word again, “simple.” We all know the most “simple” and common sense concepts can be the most complex to apply to one’s life, which then gives us ample excuses to beat ourselves up for not doing what we “know” that we are supposed to do.
The previous three blogs discussed Motivate’s philosophy that “you cannot change anything that you are not aware of and education is key to creating that awareness.” And once you commit to making CONSISTENT, HEALTHY choices through AWARENESS of the HERE AND NOW you have immediately taken the essential steps towards getting on and staying on the path towards health and wellness. Each moment that you make that choice, you are healthy, whole, and happy. You are who you are meant to be, in that moment.
Is being mindful 100% of the time the goal? It would be easy to say that we are setting ourselves up for failure if we were to make that goal. So, taking one moment at a time is the only goal. We have all stepped out of our car once we arrived at home and realized “wow I don’t remember much of the drive here.” Our day-to-day tasks become rote.
Accessing the “now” could not be any “simpler.” In fact, we were given the very best tool at birth. It is called the “breath.”
TRY THIS: Begin by becoming Aware of where your surroundings, your posture, and any muscular or emotional tension. Then, wherever you are right now, stop, get comfortable, take a nice slow, effortless breath in through your nostrils, (“smell a flower” say for a count of 2 or 3, and then slowly, effortlessly, exhale through pursed lips, (blow out a candle through a straw” for a longer count of 4 to 6 seconds). Do this another 3 or 4 more times. Then come back to the awareness of your surroundings, posture, and tension. What were you thinking about? Nothing! You were focused on breathing, simply being. Welcome to the here and NOW!
Your nervous system, and therefore your musculoskeletal, digestive, circulatory and every other system, is constantly reacting to how your brain perceives this moment. And if you are like most people you are “perceiving” what has already happened or stressing about what has yet to come, (AKA living in the past or future), and this will keep us in a state of what I like to call “sympathetic distress.” This keeps us in a “fight or flight” pattern that increases our heart rate and respiration and can stress the organs that are responsible for balancing our hormones. Yet studies have shown that simply taking the time to stop and simply, effortlessly BREATHE can stimulate our parasympathetic nervous system which is responsible for “rest and digest,” allowing for many health benefits including improved mood, digestion, bladder function, as well as sleep and heart health.
Set an alarm on your phone or computer to remind yourself to stop and breathe every day, every hour, or before you are allowed to turn the car on. And yes “there is an app for that.” There are phone apps that will not only remind you but also give you rhythms that you can set to help slow your breath down. Give yourself this daily gift, create a “new norm” or a new habit of daily mindfulness, knowing that it only needs to happen one moment at a time.
Simply being in the here and now, being aware of how your choices effect your mind, body, and spirit will lead to amazing changes and ultimately improve your quality of life. You will notice the ability to let go of things that you cannot control or change and this will give you the power and freedom to GROW towards your whole health potential!
By Denise Nichols, OTR/L, PRPC, BCB-PMD