In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to discuss Mindfulness – what it is and how it can ease pain, anxiety and stress.
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Now, let’s talk about Mindfulness – what it is and how it can ease pain, anxiety and stress.
The very presence of children is enamoring because of their exuberance, spontaneity, innocent joyfulness and their ability to truly enjoy the most simple aspects of life.
Children succeed in being happy because they are able to enjoy the moment, to be fully present without making an effort to fully engage all of their senses.
As children grow, they are reprogrammed with all sorts of thought patterns and expectations which, in turn, create anxiety, stress and a host of negative & agitative emotions.
Thus, the difference between joy and misery is the mind.
As soon as you choose to place your mind and focus on worries, fear, anger, regrets and other expectations, you leave the present moment and you become transported to a place where enough is never enough.
The solution to enjoying life and freeing oneself from pain, stress and anxiety is recapturing one’s mind, taking charge of one’s thoughts and emotions.
This is referred to as Mindfulness – the practice of placing all of your attention and focus on the present moment, observing your thoughts and feelings from a distance, replacing judgment with acceptance, learning to enjoy every aspect & moment of life.
10 Scientifically proven benefits to Mindfulness
- Mindfulness boosts the immune system’s ability to fight illness
- Mindfulness reduces chronic pain
- Mindfulness increases positive emotions while reducing negative emotions and stress. Two scientific studies reveal that Mindfulness combined with cognitive behavioral Therapy is as effective as antidepressants in fighting depression and preventing relapse
- Mindfulness increases density of gray matter in brain regions linked to learning, memory, emotion regulation, and empathy.
- Mindfulness improves memory and attention skills.
- Mindfulness fosters compassion for self and others, and altruism.
- Mindfulness improves relationships by instilling more optimism, acceptance and love.
- Mindfulness reduces pregnancy-related anxiety, stress, and depression in expectant parents and enhances parenting and social skills.
- Mindfulness reduces behavioral problems and aggression among students and improves their happiness levels; it reduces anger, hostility, and mood disturbances among prisoners by increasing their awareness of their thoughts and emotions, helping with their rehabilitation and reintegration.
- Mindfulness & “mindful eating” counter obesity by encouraging healthier eating habits and reducing anxiety-driven eating and over eating.
“It’s not really about sitting in the full lotus, like pretending you’re a statue in a British museum. It’s about living your life as if it really mattered, moment by moment by moment by moment.”
Professor Emeritus Jon Kabat-Zinn
5 Simple Steps to Practicing Mindfulness
1. Become fully aware of your breath. Focus on the breath in and the breath out, noticing only your breath and its comforting effect on your body. Deepen the breath; slow down the breath; breathe gently.
2. Follow your breath as it moves along your body. Follow it from the beginning to the end, as it enters your body, how deep it goes and how it slowly leaves your body. Naturally as you do this, the breath deepens and becomes more peaceful and harmonious.
3. Allow your breath to help you to become aware of your body. Awaken to your body’s sensations.
4. As you breathe out, release the tension in your body. “Breathing in, I’m aware of my body. Breathing out, I release the tension in my body.” With more practice, you will release the tension without thinking about it.
5. Awaken to the world around you – notice every sensation in your body (the water cascading against your skin in the shower, the light of the day) and notice the wonders of life – use all of your 5 senses to appreciate the moment.
“Do you have to make an effort to enjoy the beautiful sunset? No, you don’t have to make any effort. You just enjoy it.”
Thich Nhat Hanh
Neutralizing the Agitative Thoughts
Mindfulness combined with cognitive therapy helps you to become aware of the way your thoughts and beliefs affect your emotions and create downward spirals.
High, self-imposed standards create oppression and feelings of “I’m not good enough”; self-imposed pressure on oneself with overwork or judgment create misery and; faulty beliefs and thought patterns cause one to lose touch with what makes life worth really living.
All of my work with clients is focused on changing the negative thinking (expectations, self-judgment and criticism) and releasing the painful emotions. Research reveals that during depression, a negative mood occurs alongside negative thinking (‘I am a failure’, ‘I am inadequate, ‘I am worthless’) and physical sensations of sluggishness and fatigue brought on by feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness.
The first step to changing negative thoughts & rumination is to become aware of them; the second step is to disassociate from them (observe them, not deny them, nor battle them) – watch them from a distance reminding yourself you are not those thoughts and they do not define or control you – you are free.
For people suffering from social anxiety disorder, take “meaningful pauses” throughout the day as a way to monitor and take charge of fears and self-doubts and as a way to break those mental circuits.
In one study with obese participants, mindfulness meditation was combined with special eating meditations (slowly savoring the flavor of the food and becoming aware of how much is enough) and the result was that binge eating was reduced from an average of four per week to one and a half per week.
In one study, Jon Kabat-Zinn found that when patients with psoriasis listened to meditation tapes during ultraviolet-light therapy, they healed 4 times faster than a control group. In another study, it was found that activity increased in the left prefrontal cortex associated with happiness and that those participants with the greatest left-brain activation mounted the most vigorous antibody assault against the flu virus.
Jon Kabat-Zinn, Professor of Medicine Emeritus and creator of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, teaches that one of the keys to transformation and happiness is the very same principles that I have been teaching for years – stop taking the universe so personally, stop making it so self-centered, stop making it all about “me, me, me.”
Begin now to live life with Mindfulness – Mindful breathing, Mindful walking, Mindful talking, Mindful eating, Mindful loving – and notice your levels of happiness increase.
If you need further assistance to live in the present moment, book a one-on-one session with me.
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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”
Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & SRTT Therapist
Anointed “The Woman Expert” by WGN Chicago, Patrick Wanis PhD is a renowned Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert who developed SRTT therapy (Subconscious Rapid Transformation Technique) and is teaching it to other practitioners. Wanis’ clientele ranges from celebrities and CEOs to housewives and teenagers. CNN, BBC, FOX News, MSNBC & major news outlets worldwide consult Wanis for his expert insights and analysis on sexuality, human behavior and women’s issues. Wanis is the first person ever to do hypnotherapy on national TV – on the Montel Williams show.