Mindfulness and Meaning

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Image source: http://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/

BY SIMONE SMITH 

Welcome back Toronto Caribbean Family!

The summer is coming to a close, and because I know that winter is upon us (sigh), I am doing my best to enjoy each and every moment of the summer that is left. In doing so, I realize that this is something that many of us do not do; it is difficult to focus attention on each and every moment because of all the things that can occur in our lives on a daily basis. Between work, family, children, and our own personal angst, it is hard to really focus on the here and now. I had the pleasure of attending a workshop headed by Itai Itzvan. His workshop was on Mindfulness and Meaning and he explained mindfulness as focused awareness of one’s immediate experience. Ivan explained that being mindful can be helpful in many areas of our lives. It can help to reduce stress, anxiety and chronic pain, as well as reduce depression and make you a more actualized individual.

Being mindful allows us to monitor on-going perceptions and events. Let us look at an example; many of us have developed routines in our lives that we are not aware of; these routines have become such a part of us, that at times we forget why we do certain things. Let us take training at the gym. For those who work out, we have an understanding that at times we just have to get in the gym and get it in. We do our work out, shower and then go about our day to day without thinking about why we work out to begin with. Working out is not only great for the body; it is also great for the mind. If we are aware of the healing properties of training, we feel all of the effects. We can feel each and every contraction; we feel the sweat beading on our foreheads; we feel the pain of that pain of the muscle that we know is only going to feel worst the next day. To really feel all of this, one has to be mindful during our workout. We have to savour the experience knowing that it is going to benefit us in the future.

Itzvan reported that there is a 3 to 1 ratio when it comes to the pleasant events we experience to the negative events we experience daily. This ratio may seem off because for some reason, the negative experiences are heightened to the tenth degree. When something bad happens, we remember every part of that experience. It almost seems that humans savour our negative experiences over our positive experiences even though the positive experiences happen more frequently. It is important for us to be aware of the cycle of non-presence.

There are ways in which we can practice mindfulness. One way is to learn how to meditate. Meditation does not have to take up a large part of your day; 10 minute daily meditation is all you need to center yourself. You can find videos on YouTube that can help you set up your meditation space and provide guidance on how to meditate. Meditation takes some practice because it does require you to focus on the moment; you can’t be thinking about that project that is due at work, or how you are going to pay that outrageous telephone bill. It requires an individual to really stay in that moment which helps to increase your level of appreciation for everything that is happening in your life. Yoga is also a great mindful moment exercise. Yoga is said to help with self-awareness, positive emotions, self-compassion and self-efficacy. When you are doing yoga, you have to stay in the moment; you really have no choice; if not you could seriously hurt yourself.

Learn to savour your moments as they come; really take in each moment and imprint it in your heart. It is these moments that create our greatest memories.

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