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Stress and Mindfulness

February 10, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 193

Overworked, underpaid, tired, irritable, worried, depressed, numb, speeding through our days on autopilot and STRESSED!!!!. Sound familiar? For many of us, this is a pretty accurate descriptor of the manor in which we pass our lives away.. We find ourselves in survival mode, simply trying to make it through the next minute or hour. We are haunted by the memories of past mistakes and the hope or fear of a future that may or may not ever come. We spend our waking moments lost in our thoughts and unable to let go and awaken to the present moment. Our minds constantly spin with our plans, fantasies, memories, judgements, self talk, and all of our beliefs about the way life should be. We create barriers with our thoughts that leave us feeling isolated and alone. Simply put, most of us live in a state of internal chaos. For many people this is such a standard way of living that most are unaware

So what if it were possible to put down our excess baggage and simply awaken to life just as it is? Sounds refreshing, even liberating, doesn't it? The good news is that you absolutely can live a more liberated life. Mindfulness is available to all of us, at any given instant, in any of the 24 hours of a day. Mindfulness practice is an exceptional tool to combat the mental and emotional stress that seems to plague so many of us. It enables us to reconnect with our lives, just as we are, and helps fight the tendency to become lost in the mental/emotional morass with-in our heads.

So what are some simple steps that we can take to live a more mindful life? There are any number of places to start from. But for our purposes we'll begin by simply bringing awareness to the body and breath. This can realistically be done anywhere, but is best suited to a quiet, calm environment.

We begin by sitting or lying in a quiet place. Once in position we start to take notice of the breath. We breath into the center of the chest. We watch the depth and feel of inhalation and exhalation. We take notice of the any movement with in the body as the breath cycles in and out. Take note of any mental phenomenon and simply let them drift away. For one minute simply stay with the inhalation and exhalation. As we continue to breath and maintain awareness of the breath, we slowly start to scan the body for any tension or muscle tightness. Emotional stress is standardly accompanied by some form of physical tension.. More often that not we find muscle tightness in tandem with emotional upset. The key here is to zero in on the physical component of our stress response. We inhale into the center of our chest, or the heart center. On the exhalation we release the tension with-in the body. We stay with the breath as we move from tension point to tension point. The mind will inevitably spin as we work through this exercise. As we lose our focus and drift into the thinking mind, simply bring the focus back to the body and the breath.

As we work through this exercise we may notice that our emotional upset has a tendency to unravel with the release of muscle tension. This phenomenon clearly supports and helps us to become more aware of the mind-body connection. More advanced practitioners may want to take notice of any particular thoughts or belief systems related to certain points of tension with-in the body. This sort of approach helps us to realize that most of our thoughts, our stress and our mental junk, isn't quite as substantial as we first believed.

With practice we can start to realize a life, in the present moment, that is lighter and freer than we ever believed that it could be.

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