The year 2014 was known as the year when mindfulness became vogue. Many trainings in this mind-body strategy has popped up all over. Yet, it’s something that has been around for many generations and even well over a thousand years. In fact, being mindful was very prevalent in ancient times. Being aware of nature and what it offered was the difference between starving, living or dying.
Today, we don’t have much to worry in that realm. Rarely do we get to experience nature in its true form. We don’t have to hunt and gather. We’re not facing wild animals, unless you’re thinking of that barking dog down the street or the squirrels in your trees. Life is much different today. Still, our brains will still react to modern circumstances as if it’s facing danger from a mountain lion or a pack of wolves.
Our health suffers every time our brain sends a signal to activate adrenaline when faced with mental stress. We go into fight, flight or freeze mode, depending on our base operating system on a given situation. This same response affects the most important nerve in our body, the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve is responsible for our digestion system, our breathing, our heart rate, our blood pressure and many other functions from the neck down.
We have control over the vagus nerve more than we ever thought possible. In turn, we can control our vital body functions, once thought impossible.
This is where mindfulness comes in handy. It’s the great stress-reliever. It helps us to be more self-aware of our inner and outer world. Mindfulness is the opposite of mindlessness. Today, we seem to have moved more towards the latter rather than the former. We’ve become a mindless world. More and more people are hooked on their smart devices, unaware of the world around them. Heck, they are mostly unaware of what is going inside them as well. Such is the calamity of modern life.
Health suffers more and more. Sadly, it is estimated that today’s young people may live shorter lives than their parents. After generations of progressive increases in the life span, we’re now on the verge of a decline. Obesity is part of the problem and so is stress.
Now is the time to be more self-aware. Mindfulness is the remedy. It allows one to know what is going on inside their bodies. It helps to activate the vagus nerve in a positive way. When you’re mindful, your health improves. In fact, it’s been shown to have a positive effect on reducing obesity as well as stress.
Let me challenge you to increase your awareness of your body and then the outside world. Notice your breathing. I mean really notice it. Notice how you breathe in through your nose and the air filling your lungs. Imagine that air going all the way to your abdominal area with a slow, deep breath. Then feel it as you exhale through your mouth. Notice your heart rate slow down as you take these slow, deep breaths. Notice your gut feeling much better and the strain on your shoulders go away.
Keep focused on this process and keep doing it as much as possible. Eventually it will become second nature. I guarantee that your health will improve when you consistently do that process.
Next, notice your outer world. Keep present focused. This simply means existing in the moments mentally. Disregard any intrusive thought and only be aware of what is going on around you. Notice details as well as taking in the whole. Use every single sensory inputs in your body, especially those of sight, touch and sound.
Do that process in addition to the inner world awareness. Be mindful instead of mindless. Do this when you eat, when you’re at work, when you’re at play or anywhere else. Your whole outlook will start to change. Fear starts to wane and life truly comes back. Now, enjoy the rest of your life in a more mindful way.
Bob Choat, “Transformational Master Black Belt”
America’s #1 Mind-Body Transformation Expert and author of Mind Your Own Fitness