From time to time, Rebecca Shisler Marshall, PhD will be bringing us helpful tips on self-care, happiness, and how to be less stressed. Rebecca is a certified life coach, yoga and mindfulness instructor, Reiki Master, and shamanic practitioner in training. She brings 12 years experience in mindfulness research to her own meditation practice. You can find out more about Rebecca on her website www.CenteredYou.com, or attend her workshop, Everyday Mindfulness on September 10th.
As an associate professor at UGA, business owner, and mother of two, things can get pretty busy in my life. As the summer comes to an end and the school year is getting ready to start again, I know the best way to help reduce my stress is to meditate. And yet, even I have so much resistance to meditating more! What do I mean by resistance? Anytime I decide I want to add more mindfulness (or really any self-care practice) to my schedule, the lizard (basically the inner critic, or reptilian part of the brain) starts its familiar conversation:
“You don’t have time! You can barely get everything done as it is! It’s not possible!”
Yep, that’s resistance, and we all have it! Instead of listening to that voice, I choose to use a practice I learned when my kids were first born. Adding in more mindfulness into everyday activities. When my children were babies I would mindfully change the diapers, nurse, or fold laundry; now I mindfully wash dishes or brush my teeth, or even mindfully work. It’s not what task I chose, but how I do it. It means that I’m going to be as present as possible while I’m doing a task as mundane as washing the dishes. Being present in the now.
This is been an amazing help for me. When I practice more mindfulness, I feel lighter, happier, and more connected. Life’s challenges don’t seem so difficult and I’m able to respond instead of react. I just feel better.
What is mindfulness?
I’ve been reading and conducting mindfulness meditation research for the last 12 years and there’s a growing stack of scientific evidence. Mindfulness is helpful for everything from lowering stress, anxiety, depression, and can even help your immune system function better (to name a few). Mindfulness has even been found to increase the thickness of the brain. Isn’t that amazing?! I think mindfulness is so great, I teach it to all of my clients.
How do you practice mindfulness?
To practice mindfulness, it is simple but not necessarily easy. Think of it as building a new muscle and practice is the key to learning any new skill. First find something to pay attention to in the present moment- the breath, sounds, or your body. With each breath, bring your attention back to what is present right now- the sound of the fan running in your room, an ache in your body, or even your stomach grumbling. If your mind wanders, simply bring it back to whatever your focus is and let go of any thoughts of future (What am I going to eat?) or past (repeating a conversation from earlier in the day).
I hope you give mindfulness a try- and let me know how it goes.
Peace and Meditation,
Learn more about mindfulness!
Everyday Mindfulness Workshop at Thrive
September 10th, 1pm