. . . we just need to remember to do it
- Sharon Saltzberg
A lot has been said about mindfulness – not just in the World of Wellness. From women’s magazines to corporate America, “we need to be more mindful” seems to be a recurring mantra. Nearly everyone who reads the articles or attends the Monday Morning Meetings agree, Yes! We must be more mindful! But what is not often talked about is how to implement mindfulness in a practical manner.
In theory, it isn’t all that difficult – Googling the definition for "mindfulness" results with the “mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations”. In application, it can be difficult to be mindful – acknowledging your thoughts and feelings without bias – in the midst of real-life events.
By practicing mindfulness in quiet times we can become adept at making calm, objective observations about ourselves and others when difficult situations arise. Having the ability to properly assess a problem, the personalities involved and make unselfish decisions that benefit everyone is essential in building relationships and communicating with others on your team. A reactionary leader is volatile, and seldom builds the “know, like, trust” factor that great leaders are known for.
Here are just a few tips on building your mindfulness:
Practicing breathwork helps keep you calm in trying situations. Being able to control your breathing while under stress helps keep your emotions in-check and can keep you from reacting to the situation instead of responding thoughtfully. Studies also show that regular breathwork helps to lower blood pressure and minimizes hypertension.
While there are many types and styles of breathwork, one of the easiest is Box Breathing. To start, exhale completely. Really blow every bit of air completely out of your lungs.
Congratulations! You’ve just completed one round of Box Breathing!
Aim to complete four full rounds per sitting each day for optimal results.
Think on these things
When you add meditation to the mix you are better able to maintain control of yourself and the situation you are in.
The information available today can become quite overwhelming! From politics to health to celebrity to social media to current expectations – the list is endless. It is easy to get caught up in polarizing topics or comparing yourself to unrealistic expectations, causing unnecessary anxiety, stress and frustration.
Instead of dwelling on all the negativity that is constantly on blast, try spending a time in meditation. Just a few minutes each day helps cultivate kindness and gratitude and gives you perspective that reduces stress and anxiety.
If you are a beginner, you may find getting through a two-minute meditation session without being distracted by thoughts flying around in your head nearly impossible. That is completely normal! Beginning with Sound Meditation or Gazing Meditation is a great way to start your practice. Both of these provide your mind with something to focus on without allowing your thoughts to invade this restorative activity.
For Sound Meditation, you’ll need a comfortable place to sit and a few moments to spend time listening. For beginners, that might be a piece of classical or jazz music. Another option is to sit outdoors and focus on the sounds of nature around you.
For Gazing Meditation, find something interesting to look at for a few minutes. This is one of my favorite forms of meditation to practice outdoors, letting my attention be on a particular tree or flower.
Meditation is a great way to calm the mind, improve concentration, reduce anxiety and simply unwind at the end of the day.
The last form of mindfulness I want to highlight is my very favorite – Gratitude Meditation.
Gratitude meditation is exactly what is sound like. It is time dedicated to expressing gratitude for the things in your life.
You don’t have to find a particularly comfortable position to get seated in. You don’t have to be alone in the dark. In fact, you can practice gratitude meditation while you are standing in line waiting for your morning cuppa. All that is required is to reflect on the people and things you are thankful for.
Even when things are stressful, you can still be grateful. Exploring gratitude gives you the opportunity for growth. Cultivating feelings of thankfulness gives you a fresh perspective of your daily life and leads to higher levels of well-being, reduced levels of anxiety and a lasting sense of joy.
You can choose one or two things to think about – these could be a person, place or object. Spend time considering why you are thankful. Explore different aspects you might not have considered. Sit in this feeling of gratitude and form a purpose to express your gratefulness in a meaningful way.
Eventually, you may find that you are able to express gratitude in difficult relationships, uncomfortable situations and even for people who you would not consider a “friend”.
Do you practice mindfulness regularly? If so, share how you incorporate it into your life and the results you have experienced with us!
Just put one foot in front of the other
No. Not that kind of balance. Well. You definitely need balance between your family life and work life, relationships and expectations, yada, yada, yada.
But I’m talking about the pat-your-head, rub-your-belly, hop-on-one-foot kind of balance. Can you still do that?
Go on, give it a try. I’ll wait right here for you. Seriously. I stopped writing just to make sure I could still do it.
When we are exercising, we usually focus on strength, flexibility and endurance. Here are a few really good reasons why we should push away from the desk or get up off of the couch and spend time practicing our balance:
Are you up for the challenge?
Here are a few balance exercises you can try today. With each of these exercises, it is important to engage your core and go slowly:
It's true - We need balance in everything
When you stop to think about it, balance is used in so many things we do:
I challenge you to 2-3 minutes of balance training each day. Meet me back in The Emerging Tribe and share your progress!
And why you should stop to drink
Do you know the difference between a raisin and a grape? Or a plum and a prune?
Water’s unique properties make it critical for basic cellular functions. Water accounts for up to 60% of your bodyweight and is a vital nutrient to the life of every single cell in your body. Virtually all chemical reactions in life happens in a solution of water.
About two-thirds of the water in your body can be found in your individual cells and the remaining one-third is found in the blood, lymphatic system and space between each cell.
You don't have to depend on water alone for hydration! Eating 9-11 cups of fresh produce each day helps ensure you are nourished AND well-hydrated.
Here are a few really important reasons for all of us to stay hydrated:
The ebb & flow of hydration
It’s pretty obvious that your body gets the water it needs from what you eat and drink. Let’s take a minute to focus on all the ways hydration levels are depleted.
Without even breaking a sweat, water is used in the production of hormones, neurotransmitters and cellular reproduction. In addition, water is required to breakdown the molecular bonds of the macros in the foods you eat. Your body then reassembles those smaller components into more complex compounds in order to produce the elements needed for cellular repair, enzyme production, protein synthesis and much more.
On top of the water used during microscopic processes, each breath dries our respiratory mucus membranes and releases water vapor into the air. Every single time you blink your eyes, droplets of water-based fluid are released to coat your eyeball.
Staying hydrated is required for proper digestion. Dehydration reduces the amount of saliva available in the mechanical process of chewing, limits the amount of nutrients you are able to absorb from the foods you eat and causes constipation at the end of the line.
Studies have shown that a 1% decrease in body weight from fluid loss can result in adverse symptoms. The longer you go without replenishing this life-giving substance, the more your body suffers. Decreased blood pressure, shrunken and dysfunctional cells and muscle weakness often happen before your thirst mechanism kicks in.
Act now, don't delay
Having a drink of water before your body tells you you’re thirsty ensures all cellular and metabolic processes continue without disruption and ensures all your elimination pathways are functioning properly.
For adult men, aim for between 3 and 3.5 liters of water each day. Adult females should drink between 1.5 and 2 liters per day. Sedentary folks should focus on the lower end while those more active should drink more – especially if you are spending a significant amount of time in the heat, in a dry climate, in the wind or in an extended period of physical exertion.
Being well-hydrated contributes to happy cells, organs that aren’t overworked, efficient digestion, more supple skin, a robust immune system and better metabolism.
The best way to keep up with your water intake? Find a cup you like to drink out of (you’ll know if that’s the one!) Then measure how much it holds and keep it at arm’s reach. Sip throughout the day. When you hit empty, refill. Now repeat until you've reached your goal!
If you have seen Charlie and the Chocolate Factory more than once, you're welcome. Good luck getting rid of that earworm.
This week on Facebook, we've been talking about facing challenges and how we overcome them. I compared it to eating an elephant - you tackle it one bite at a time. And that got me thinking about the importance of chewing. Real food, that is.
Have you ever noticed that when you eat in a hurry you usually have horrible indigestion afterwards? Maybe that is how you eat normally - gulping down huge, barely chewed bites and finishing your meal in just a few minutes. You probably keep several bottles of antacids at the ready and deal with chronic bloating & gassiness almost daily.
Unless you particularly enjoy having your waistband cutting into your tender skin, belching frequently with added reflux and feeling pretty gross after you eat, you don't have to put up with it! Chewing slowly & thoroughly can help alleviate the misery.
Let me outline the benefits you can experience with this no cost, practice anywhere digestion-improving therapy. By chewing well every time you eat, you can reduce your chance of being miserable after each meal. People, that isn't normal nor is it fun!
First, understand that there are two types of digestion that happens with everything you eat: Mechanical and Chemical. Mechanical digestion is the ripping, tearing and pulverizing actions that take place in our mouths when we chew and in our stomachs after we swallow. This action creates more surface area in each bite so that when your food is delivered to your stomach the chemical digestion is more affective. The more you take care of the mechanical digestion in your mouth, the less mechanical digestion needs to happen in your stomach.
In addition to better mechanical digestion, chewing thoroughly infuses each bite with salivary enzymes, beginning the process of chemical digestion. Chemical digestion is the action taken by enzymes, acids and other secretions throughout your digestive tract on the molecular bonds of each macro nutrient you swallow. Unless these bonds get broken into smaller particles, your body is unable to absorb and assimilate the nutrition you are offering it. This means even if you are eating a healthy diet of whole foods, but aren't chewing well enough, your body can't receive the careful nutrition you are consuming.
When you chew your food well you are directly impacting your health on the cellular level. Plus you are able to actually savor and enjoy each bite.
If you aren't enjoying what you are eating, you are doing it completely wrong. But that's a conversation for another day.
Many would argue this is not literally true, yet it does hold great truth.
Your “gut” entails everything from your mouth to your anus. This includes:
This tract of digestive organs is responsible for more than just squishing your food up real good and absorbing it all.
Did you know?
The Gut is also known as the Second Brain because so many other systems of our bodies are controlled by what happens (or fails to happen) here. This includes our immunity and the production of key vitamins, neurotransmitters and even our hormones.
The heart of our Immune System (a whopping 70-80%!) is located in our small intestine. Without your small intestine, you would not be able to break down and assimilate brain healthy fatty acids like Omega-3s or formulate critical B-vitamins, and hormones like serotonin and progesterone. In addition, proper function of your small intestine is critical for your body’s production and absorption of thyroid hormones.
Your large intestine is responsible for processing and absorbing minerals like zinc, magnesium and potassium. Another job is to absorb water and recirculate digestive juices like bile and pancreatic enzymes.
While all disease doesn’t literally start in the gut, there are so many metabolic, autoimmune, degenerative, neurological and cognitive diseases that begin with simple gastrointestinal disturbances and imbalances. These can result in bloating, acid reflux, diarrhea, gas and constipation OR brain fog, lack of concentration, poor memory, depression and anxiety. If unaddressed, over time these symptoms can cascade into more serious conditions.
Gut health is a pretty complex subject with many interconnecting layers that help paint an overall picture of your body’s health. Most conditions today involve a myriad of factors, not just one. It just so happens that the health of your gut is usually one of them.