One of the topics I have been reading and hearing a lot more about recently is “Living in the Moment” or being in a mental state of “Mindfullness”.
I have been practicing living in the moment over the past few years and I have made a point of trying to make “Mindfullness” part of my daily routine. I must admit that although I try to be focused on being mindfull and living in the moment, it has been difficult to stay with it on a daily basis. I seem to go on “spurts” where I do a great job of it for days or weeks at a time, then drift back to my old habits. Like you, my life is fast paced and busy and therfore it is easy to get away from being mindfull and living in the moment. I have found however that when I incorporate certain Mindfull practices into my daily routine, I am a much happier, productive, confident and relaxed person. Living in this state of mindfullness is not only better for my own mental and spirtual health, it also has a waterfall effect on others as it is much better for all the people I interact with on a daily basis.
What Sold Me On Mindfullness?
During one of my Executive Medicals a few years ago, my Dr. put a finger monitor on while asking me a number of questions. His questions were around stress and he had asked me what my level of daily stress was on a scale of 1 to 10? Of course I let him know that I was in full control of my stress levels and shared with him that I would rate myself as a 5 out of 10 on the stress scale as I thought I lived a stress free life.
It turned out that the finger monitor was not a measure of my oxygen levels as I had thought but was a a measure of my overall brain activity. After letting him know that I didn’t think I was stressed and gave myself a score of 5 on the stress scale, he spun around his computer monitor and based on my current brain activity, I was at maximum as the entire screen was red. What this meant of course was that my brain was firing on all cylinders and my brain neurological activity was off the charts.
He then proceeded to take me through a simple 4 minute basic breathing/meditation excercise. Once we were done he showed me the monitor and I was really surpirsed as within one minute of starting the meditation exercise, my brain activity went down to super low level meaning I was very very relaxed. That was the first time I had done any form of meditation and I was amazed at how great and relaxed I felt after just 5 minutes. This was what sold me on breathing/meditation and since that time I have been trying to incorporate this and some other strategies into my daily routine in order for me to be more mindful.
I have been asked to share the things that I do to enter into this blissful, relaxed state and live in the moment. Here are the 5 strategies I use to live in the moment and be more mindful.
I remember when I was young, my mom continually reminding me to take very deep breaths especially when outdoors. As the saying goes, “Mother knows best” was in fact true as it was great advice.
I often concentrate on my breath and breathing when I am excercising especially when I am doing outdoor excercise such as running, cycling or backcountry skiing. I find that concentrating on my breath puts me in a very relaxed, stress free state.
One great thing I have been doing is watching/listening to YouTube videos on breath and breathing excercises. I find that when I do these breathing excercises even for as little as 10 minutes, it is amazing how relaxed I feel. In fact I have been setting an alarm earlier than normal so I can get my morning workout in and still have time to do a 10 or 15 minute breathing exercise routine. Through this morning routine I am engaging my Sympathetic nervous system by excercising , then finishing by engaging my Parasympathetic Nervous system(relaxed system) through deep breathing. It is amazing how relaxed, confident, and “quiet” my body feels after this morning routine.
Breath before Sleep
As many of you know, I have a bedtime routine I follow that ensures I drift off in a relaxed state which allows me to have a very peaceful, deep and good nights sleep. Once I finish reading and my tea, I take a few deep breaths for relaxation while I think about how appreciative I am for the day and think of 3 things that happened that day that I am grateful for. I find that by going through this 2 or 3 minute routine, it allows me to fall into a very relaxed state prior to falling asleep which allows me to have a great full sleep. For those that missed it, you can access My 5 Natural Remedies For A Great Sleep here: http://kevinbradyhealth.ca/5-natural-remedies-for-a-great-sleep/
I find that exercise is one of the best ways for me to live in the moment and be really mindful. When I exercise and particularly outdoors, I find it really forces me to look around and experience and notice life. I find this is really true when I go outside for a run, ride, backcountry skiing or a simple walk.
As many of you know, one of the things I do when I exercise is go through what I call my “Mantra”. Part of this routine is to “Be Present” and really notice everything going on in life around me. During this phase of exercise I notice things such as the air passing in and out of my lungs, my breath, the sounds around me, nature, animals, vegetation, plants and the sky to name a few. Quite often I spend a long portion of my exercise in this “Being Present” phase where I really notice all things around me. If you missed my blog on Thoughts That Can Change Your Mood – Daily, you can access it here:http://kevinbradyhealth.ca/thoughts-that-change-your-mood/
In fact, one great concept that our daughter Lauren taught me while on a run was for me to “Just Be” . When I asked her what she meant by this she used the example of a dog that knows instinctively how to “Just Be”. When she explained this, I knew exactly what she meant by it as quite often I see our dog Wilson when he goes outside and does this. He simply stands outside, looks around, feels the wind blowing in his face, his nose in the air smelling all that is around while enjoying he sun on his body. He is naturally enjoying all around him and really appreciating nature.
Often during my outside exercise sessions, I make a point to “Just Be” and I find this is the best way for me to really live in the moment.
4.Get Out in Nature
One of the easiest ways for me live in the moment and be mindful is for me to get out in nature. I find that nothing gets me in this beautiful state of living in the moment better than nature. Whether it is simply going for a walk, a hike, a ride, a swim or a run, nothing beats getting out in nature to live in the moment. I also find that being out in nature makes me very appreciative of all that is around us and how really beautiful the world is.
5.Notice the Miracles All Around Us
Another thing I do to try to get in a mindful state is to really take notice of all the amazing miracles around us. Every single thing we experience daily and in life all around us is a true miracle. Our bodies and how they function, our emotions, the love we feel, nature, sunlight, clouds, rain and the list goes on and on as everything around us is a true miracle.
I am writing this blog on the way to our son Matts graduation from U of C out in Calgary and I think of the miracles I am experiencing as I write this. I am sitting on a plane(miracle), 30,000 feet in the air(miracle), traveling at 800 km/hr(miracle), while doing email(miracle) while having a coffee(miracle) and watching the sun set in the beautiful sky(miracle). When you think of it, all of life is a miracle and we are so lucky and fortunate to experience all of these miracles in our life every single day.
I think the problem is that we are so so busy with our daily lives and take so much for granted that we don’t ever sit back and look at all the miracles that are around us every minute of every day. Miracles surround us every day – our bodies, people, our loved ones, grass, snow, nature, the sky, the sun, clouds, water and the list goes on and on.
The Take Aways
Life is fleeting and it is so important to take the time to “Smell the Roses”. Life is so amazing however we are so busy, we need to take the time to slow down and appreciate life and we can do this by living in the moment.
The strategies I use to “live in the moment” are as follows:
Take time to really breath
Nothing beats exercise to get in the moment
Learn to “Just Be”
Get out and experience nature
Take the time to notice all the miracles around us
Have an amazing “In the Moment” day, Kev
Health Tip Of The Week
Have you ever wondered how you can get instant energy into your system? Traditionally when our energy is low, we reach for a coffee or a pop. A safe and very effective natural energy source are dates. Dates are one of the fastest foods to get absorbed in our system and provide energy and they are safe and natural. In fact, when I work out first thing in the morning, I have a couple of dates right when I roll out of bed before working out in order to boost my glycogen and provide needed energy for my workout.