Watch your thoughts, they become words. Watch your words, they become actions. Watch your actions, they become habits. Watch your habits, they become character. Watch your character, it becomes your destiny.
Mindfulness is a topic you can read about everywhere nowadays. It seems like mindfulness is an upcoming trend due to a world full of increasing workload, the persisting feeling of disconnection to oneself and it’s surroundings, digital distractions and a restless way of living. Maria Boettner, a yoga, meditation and mindfulness teacher hosted an insightful Skill Share Breakfast to teach us more about how to live more mindfully.
An ancient tradition
Interestingly mindfulness is not at all some new invention or just a trend. Spiritual cultures as eg Buddhism live their own version of mindfulness for thousands of years as in forms of meditation, yoga or prayers. When back in days people practiced their version of mindfulness, they did because of the benefits for body and mind and the positive impact they felt on their life. When breathing in and out, when the mind becomes still and we enter e space behind our thoughts – then our brainwaves change and this has a positive effect on every cell in the human body, as they are monitored by the brain.
Today it is possible to prove the benefits of mindful practices such as meditation or yoga with scientific research. Our brainwaves (the speed of electrical impulses in our brain) show how fast our brain is working. In a normal day situation our brain is working on Beta waves, in stressful situations it speeds up into Gamma waves. Light relaxation is shown on Alpha waves and the state of sleep in Theta waves. Imagine the speed of your brain working as similar as you are running: the faster you run the earlier and more exhausted you will be. The goal of meditation is to slow the brain waves down to Alpha waves or for experienced meditation practitioners to Theta waves while still staying awake.
Breathe in, Breathe out
After some theory we start with an exercise concentrating on our breathing in and out. As simple as it sounds, as good and effective this exercise is to bring thoughts to the here and now. Mindfulness has a lot to do with the here and now. Being mindful is seeing, hearing, feeling and smelling what surrounds us in this very moment. When the mind wanders of we gently bring it back to our breathing. This exercise rises the awareness of our self and surroundings. We do this for 5 minutes. Especially for people that have never meditated before, it’s not as easy as it sounds. Give it a try yourself!
For the next exercise we sit face-to-face of a partner and are instructed to watch his face, while the other person is meditating and smiling at the same time. We switch and tell each other what the other person looks like. One can really feel, that when we smile while meditating it has an effect on the wellbeing. It enhances the level of happiness and helps to go in a state of gratitude. Not only for one self, but also for the person watching the smiling face has a positive effect.
Build a habit of meditating
The best way to build a meditation habit according to mindfulness specialist and yoga teacher Maria Boettner is to start with a 5 minute practice every day. Best time for this would be in the morning just after waking up as at is the point of the day when our mind is still and at its emptiest state. Sitting upright on a chair, feet flat on the floor, hands on the knees and an open chest are important to breathe freely. Now close the eyes and focus on breathing in and out, the surrounding noises or the feeling in a particular body part like the finger or the feet. Meditating while laying down is not advised as one can easily fall back asleep again.
The brain works similar to a muscle, it needs training to develop and strengthen itself. Therefore daily practicing is key. It is scientifically proven that already three weeks of meditation practice changes the interconnections of our nervous system in our brain: An MRI scan already shows an increased grey brain matter.
Making it part of our daily lives
Where it is easiest to start with a regular session in the morning, mindfulness does not have to limit itself to only meditation. Practicing mindfulness is possible in every daily situation, like waiting for the bus, being in a meeting or while cooking. In every moment we make the choice if our thoughts are taking us away from the here and now. Being mindful means to take full control over our thoughts and responsibility to always gently bringing the attention to the here and now.
When we feel the mind is speeding up, taking to places we don’t want to go or we are looking for distractions such as the smartphone, it is the perfect moment to ask ourselves how we are feeling, checking in where we are in that very moment. Do we have an open body language (no crossed legs or arms or slumped down chest), if we are doing what we intended to do and if we feel integer with ourselves.
Small check ups during the day with ourselves help us to feel better, have more control over our live and our daily energy. Mindfulness does therefore help us to be more in tune with our self and have therefor a higher self-confidence. Being more aware what is going on in and around us, leads to better decisions, as we can see situations more clearly.
We invite you to download the free app “Du hast Pause” – where you’ll find meditation exercises and plan to keep track and establish a routine.