Everyone is talking about Mindfulness.
To the point where you might not want to care about it. You probably see annoying memes about the present moment. I get it. Sometimes I scroll by and just want to hate it.
But, the reason mindfulness is huge is because it actually is a huge deal. Literally, the quality of your life, even the length of your life, could hinge on it.
I’m going to tell you why in just a second. Stay with me.
Let’s start with what mindfulness is since that might be a good starting to help you see that it doesn’t just mean boring meditation that you are pretty sure you can’t sit through.
So, you see? It doesn’t mean you have to be pretzeled up in a lotus position practicing your OMs. You can if you want to, but that is not what mindfulness is all about.
Really, it boils down to the practice of being aware of what is occurring right now.
People talk about the power of the present moment. You know why? Because the present moment is the moment you can make a choice. Right?
Think about it. Think about that moment where you feel super irritated. You could either rip someone’s face off, you could give them eye daggers or you could be aware of the irritation.
If you are aware of the irritation, you have power over it. It is not the one running the show, you are. If you don’t know about the irritation, it is the boss.
That is why the present moment is so powerful. Because that is where you get to be the boss.
Alright, maybe you are a little more into it now because you like the idea of being the boss.
Now, here are the 3 reasons you really need to care about it.
Your physical health
Yes, I know that seems crazy. Research is showing that practicing mindfulness LITERALLY has an impact on the length of your LIFE. See, it’s these little things called Telomeres. There are the end caps on your chromosomes. The length of those guys predicts your vulnerability to life threatening health conditions. This research is connecting stress with shorter telomere length.
Mindfulness allows you to have some control over how you manage stress. See last week’s post about this. If you are aware of stress in earlier stages, you are more likely to be manage it better. The other finding is that mindfulness meditation (yes, meditation, there are lots of kinds that are totally do-able) has a physiological impact on your body. Yes, it improves your health.
I normally wouldn’t want to look at any research article, but Epel et al. write their findings in a palatable way. Don’t take my word for it. Check out their findings in their published research article, Can meditation slow rate of cellular aging? Cognitive stress, mindfulness and telomeres. Or, if you are really curious, read their book The Telomere Effect: A Revolutionary Approach to Living Younger, Healthier, Longer.
Your Emotional Health
If you are not aware of your emotions, like I said earlier, they are running the show. I say this with my child clients all the time: what is the problem with emotions? Not knowing about them is the problem. We say this back and forth to each other multiple times in a session.
Doing mindfulness meditation like vipassana (this is a nice explanation/FAQ on vipassana) or even a guided meditation (here’s a short 2 minute one) that helps you build the skill of tuning into your body and focusing your mind on the present will help you develop that skill.
When you develop that skill, it generalizes to being aware as you are walking around in the world, going about your day. Think of it like lifting weights. Yes, lifting weights consistently means you can lift heavier weights after a while in the gym. But it also means that you can do more in your daily life outside the gym like helping someone lift their suitcase into the overheard compartment on a plane or be more active with your kids.
Being aware of your internal state means you get to have less chaos in your life. Mindfulness is a key skill in being able to navigate the human emotional system since you know that emotions mostly just want to be seen and acknowledged.
If you practice mindfulness and you are aware of your emotions, you are going to better at communicating and problem solving with your partner, your friends and your family. If you are aware of your emotions, you will be able to get your needs met without as much tension, fighting or disconnection.
Think about those moments when you snap at your loved ones. Imagine having less of those. Totally possible as you build up your mindfulness skills.
If that doesn’t convince you, I don’t what will!
Where should you start? There are tons of apps out there. My favorite as of today is Headspace.
Do the 10 day journey for free.
And, remember, you don’t get a six pack or huge biceps in a day or 10 days. You have to be consistent.
With so much at stake: your physical health, your emotional health and the health of your relationships, you can do this. I really think 10 min a day is a small investment for HUGE dividends.