May 25, 2024
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May 25, 2024
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Meaningful Mindfulness in 2023

New Year’s resolutions often consist of physical health goals: working out more, making more nutritious meals, losing weight and more. But a big piece of physical fitness is mental and emotional—without taking care of our brain, we lose out on maximizing our health. So this year, perhaps you’d like to focus less on hitting the gym and more on hitting the pause button, so you can really tune in to what you need.

Mindful Magazine, a publication that focuses on developing mindfulness and conscious practice, defines mindfulness as “the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.”

So how do we achieve this?


Daily Meditation

Meditation is usually associated with sitting down in a quiet location, closing your eyes and taking deep breaths until your mind is completely cleared. While this is a nice way of incorporating mindfulness, it’s not necessarily an achievable daily practice for most people.

Meditation can be done anywhere: while standing in line, driving in the car, lying down before bed, or sitting down for a cup of coffee in the morning. And for observant Jews, we can practice meditation during davening as well, especially when there is silence for Shemoneh Esrei.

Wherever you are, try to direct your thoughts to that exact moment. Relax the tense muscles in your body and take slow, deep breaths. How do you feel? What are the sensations in your body? Focus on these things for just a few minutes.

Meditation has been studied in many clinical trials. According to the Mayo Clinic, the overall evidence supports its effectiveness for various conditions, including stress, anxiety, pain, depression, insomnia and high blood pressure.


Take Short Pauses

Maybe meditation is not your thing, or your life is too busy for five minutes of silence. Mindfulness can also be practiced while doing everyday things like walking, eating and running errands. Pausing whatever you’re doing for just a few seconds, anchor yourself to that exact moment. Are you breathing normally? How do your feet feel on the ground? Are you focused on the task at hand, or are you distracted by something else? Practicing these short pauses will increase your overall awareness and help you live in the present as much as possible. And don’t be so hard on yourself if you find you are often distracted—our attention spans can only take so much! When you do notice you have lost your grounding in the moment, acknowledge it and return to your breathing.


Get Organized

Mindfulness takes time, which is why a crucial part of the practice is creating a schedule for yourself. Sticking to a routine will ensure that you are prioritizing yourself in your daily life and minimize any overwhelming feelings of stress and distraction. Perhaps even scheduling in a dedicated time for meditation is something you can incorporate into that routine.

There are plenty of online resources and apps that not only keep your mind clear and focused, but will also prompt you to take a minute and get re-oriented with your surroundings.

Organizing your surroundings can also help with mindfulness—eliminating physical clutter allows for more opportunity to focus and be present. Similarly, if you are taking a few minutes to meditate, removing distractions like your phone, computer, paperwork etc. can improve your ability to practice mindfulness.

Experts at the Mayo Clinic recommend taking it slow when it comes to embarking on this health goal. “Instead of blocking out an hour a day to do this, devote a few minutes at a time each day to practice, with maybe one 20-minute session included at the start or end of the day…It is important you don’t put too much pressure on yourself to see results when you start practicing mindfulness. It takes time and regularity to start noticing the positive effects it is having, so it is crucial you are patient. Over time, sticking to a routine and incorporating this into your day-to-day life will likely make a big difference.”

And maybe that big difference will make 2023 the best year yet.

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