Your Brain Needs a Break

Your mind likes to stay busy – all the time. It spends the vast majority of the time in the past (depression/rumination) or in the future (anxiety/what ifs).

Your mind needs a break; it never gets a break…not even when you sleep. It likes to stay busy to help you survive. Mindfulness can give it a break.

Mindfulness is a practice to be in the present moment, which helps you cope with emotional states, such as depression and anxiety. Mindfulness is also beneficial to your physical state; there are numerous benefits, not the least of which includes reducing symptoms of chronic pain.

That sounds pretty good; right?

How do you start? What does it look like?

You can start today by doing one thing at a time. (For example: Don’t eat while you are working or watching TV; simply eat and savor all of the textures and flavors in your meal.) Pay very close attention to the present moment, at least for a short while. Look up, look around you, deeply inhale, through your nose, the color blue (calming thoughts); slowly exhale, out your mouth, the color red (thoughts that don’t serve you well).

Exhale longer than you inhale. Extended exhalations stimulate the vagus nerve and natural pace maker; feel your heart beat begin to slightly slow down. You may have concluded, at this point, that we are referring to a meditation practice. How do you know if you are in a meditative stance? Read below for more juicy goodness:

Meditation is different for each person. The best way to consider the definition of meditation for you is to consider this: “What is that one thing that you do that you truly enjoy – that when you are engaged in that activity, time and space cease to exist.”

For some, this may be water color, drawing, writing, creating. For others, it may be more physical, like walking, hiking, running, etc.

If you haven’t tried meditation before, you will immediately notice that your attention wanders and is not easily controlled. Be patient; it takes approximately 66 days to create a new habit.

Meditation strengthens your ability to pay attention in the present moment, but also increases your awareness of how our minds fluctuate, often in unhelpful ways. People who regularly practice meditation are often better able to control what they focus on throughout the day. You can’t control your thoughts, but you can control the thoughts on which you want to focus.

~Lisa Schiro, M.S., LPC