Join us for the January SoHaPP challenge – Clearing the Mind. Start off the year with a daily quiet reflection to bring a single focused effort of mindfulness, and give the brain a special type of rest during the day for better performance.
LINCCK Civility • Compassion • Kindness is a Plateau group committed to vibrant well-being, and has a new initiative called “Every Day SoHaPP”. Go on the SoHaPP journey, and make clearing your mind an important part of your day, every day.
Our minds are constantly thinking, moving from one thought to another often without a particular focus. We may see, hear or smell something that triggers a memory that then triggers a negative emotion. Before you know it, you are in a tail spin of negative self-critical or other depressive thought pattern. It happens so insidiously you are not even aware it has occurred. This is our brain’s natural inclination towards negative thinking called negativity bias. We developed this bias when we were mostly nomadic and had to be hyper aware of our surroundings lest we get eaten. Practicing clearing your mind helps to counteract this bias.
We are often overstimulated with input. We can choose to bring stillness and peace to the brain. Simple breathing, visualization techniques, and focusing on the sensations of your body helps clear the mind, improves sensory processing and boosts productivity. Here are some easy ways to start. Begin with 3-5 minutes, then increase to perhaps 20 minutes. You can do your practice anytime during the day and as often as you like. For best results though, be consistent with your practice.
Three Different Ways to Observe Your Breath: Take an easy seat. Close your eyes, and observe your breath. What is its quality? Is it smooth or jagged, short or long, easy or hard? Just observe without judgment. Your mind will wander naturally; that’s what it does. Let it, and favor your breath. For cleansing breaths, close your eyes and take a deep breath, and then say silently to yourself on the inhale “I am” and on the exhale “calm”. Or, try pausing between actions by taking a breath. For example, when someone asks you a question, pause first and take a breath, then respond.
Observe Your Thoughts: Close your eyes and watch your thoughts as though you were watching a movie, and you can even imagine sitting in a theater while doing this. When you feel like you have become attached to a thought and you start to drive or follow a thought pattern, take a breath and pull back.
Moving Meditation: Go for a walk. Really focus on each step. Focus on the impact of your foot on the ground. Is the ground hard or soft? What part of the foot hits the ground first? Move slowly and with intention. For example, think “I’m stepping forward now, my heel is touching the ground, and the ground feels soft.”
Practice Being Mindful: Studies show when you practice mindfulness, you increase your ability to perceive more. It’s easy to do. Choose a repetitive task you do often, then focus your attention on your senses, what it feels like, what it smells like. For example, eating mindfully. What colors are on your plate? How does it smell? What is the texture of the food in your mouth? What are the flavors? Move slowly and deliberately. When your mind wanders, bring it back to your senses.
Reap Amazing Health Benefits: Studies show practicing meditation can increase immune function, decrease pain, decrease blood pressure and hypertension, lower cholesterol level, increase production of the anti-aging hormone DHEA and more restful sleep. Your practice can also help mentally and emotionally as well by an increase in positive emotions, decrease of depression and anxiety, reduction of stress, increase of focus and attention, and improvement of memory, creativity and problem solving. It even changes the structure of your brain by increasing your grey matter and the volume in areas related to emotion regulation and self-control, as well as cortical thickness in areas related to paying attention.
Makes You Wiser and More Social: The practice of observing your thoughts instead of immediately acting on them builds skill in being less reactionary. You are able to respond to crisis from a grounded and thoughtful place. This is the time you set aside to sort through the stuff (thoughts, feelings, perceptions) accumulated throughout the day, and then be able to move forward more balanced.
We often have little control over what happens in our day to day life, but we can develop control and ease over HOW we experience our life and HOW we respond to it. Clearing the Mind helps develop these skills. Join us for a free three-part introduction to Meditation and Clearing the Mind at the Enumclaw Library from 6-6:30 p.m. Monday evenings Jan 4, 11 and 25. Come to just one session or all three.
November’s SoHaPP practice was Expressing Gratitude and December’s was Creating Positive Experiences. Until March, LINCCK will suggest a new SoHaPP practice each month to further develop vibrant well-being. Information is at www.SoHaPP.org and at FaceBook ‘SoHaPP’. Own your happiness. Take intentional steps to build vibrant well being, just by clearing your mind.