GOOD MORNING MONDAY –
AFFIRMATIVE THOUGHTS FOR A GREAT WEEK
Happy Monday! Last week we started down the path of mindfulness, which is about being present in the Here and Now. I challenged each of you to begin to train yourselves to pay attention to what was happening in your lives right now; paying attention to your thoughts, sensations and emotions in a non-judgmental way. As you worked on this last week the goal was awareness, so that you could bring yourselves back to the present moment. Continuing this work is a truly powerful habit to solidify in your life.
As this habit gets incorporated deeper into your life, you can begin to interrupt a habit you may already have of getting lost in your thoughts, which typically has the tendency to be most about the past or the future. These thoughts can even generate more stress for you on top of the real pressures of your everyday life. Ruminating and getting lost in your thoughts reminds me of an interesting quote about this concept by Mark Twain in which he said, “I’ve lived through some terrible things in my life, some of which have actually happened.”
As you continue to build your habit of living in the present moment, you can strive to keep your mind from wandering into the past and the future, and potentially catastrophising things that are not real. Incorporating mindfulness into your day can alleviate some unnecessary stresses in your daily life. This may be just the ticket to finding relaxation and peace.
This week, to continue building your mindfulness skills, I am challenging you to be aware of your BREATH AND BREATHING. A question for you, “how many of you reading this note are breathing?” You may think, “what a silly question;” but all of us breathe thousands of times each day without even thinking about it. We take our breath and our breathing for granted; until a time when our allergies kick in, we have a cold, or we are choking, etc., etc.
Being mindful about your breathing can help you reduce stress, boost energy and make you feel happier. In fact, research is mounting that shows just by slowing your breathing you can dial down your whole stress response. SO, THE KEY TO STRESS RELIEF IS RIGHT BENEATH YOUR NOSE!
Your breath plays a huge role in your relaxation response, (your body’s ability to fight stress right in the moment). The better equipped you are to first recognize the way you are breathing and begin to slow and control the pace of your breathing, helps you regain a sense of calm. Consciously changing how you breathe, the rate, the depth and the pattern, changes the messages your body sends to your brain. Breathing is critical to your survival and your brain is paying close attention. So, awareness of how you are breathing, then adjusting your breathing pattern, can flip you from a stress, “fight or flight” response, to a more positive emotion allowing you to regain control in the moment. This can be helpful both in your personal and professional life
Let me share with you a few techniques to help you begin to put this into practice:
Awareness breathing technique – sit quietly and notice each breath you take. Follow the intake through the nose and into the lungs; then notice the slow exhalation as you breathe outward. The in breath energizes your body and the out breath relaxes it. Your breath is like a wave; it goes up as you breathe in and down as you breathe out.
Coherent breathing technique– This involves taking 5 or 6 slow steady breaths per minute. To begin building the habit of “coherent breathing” practice 10 minutes, ideally two times per day. Building this breath habit will enable you to easily call upon this tool, in the moment, whenever your stress levels begin to rise.
Relaxation breathing technique – Exhale completely through the mouth; then, inhale quietly through the nose for a count of 8; hold your breath for a count of 4 and then exhale completely through the mouth for a count of 8. Repeat 3 times.
Paying attention to the breath is one way to anchor yourself to the present moment. Also, checking in on your breath throughout the day enables you to be tuned in to your current mind state. Awareness of your breath and mind state is one way to help you know when to place yourself in “park”, rethink your response or approach, or open your mind to new possibilities.
Using your breathing to nurture mindfulness takes no time at all, only a shift in attention. Just keep returning to the breath when your mind wanders or when you are feeling a little stressed. Great adventures await you when you give yourself a little time to JUST BREATHE! 😊
Hope you have a GREAT WEEK!