Mindfulness – What does that have to do with Mario Kart?

There are many things that you can do to relieve stress. You can exercise. Walking helps. I do it when I am stuck when writing or angry or trying to figure out a problem. Now remember I’m the one who was so busy thinking about curriculum I needed to write, I stepped on my husband’s misplaced shoes and dislocated my ankle and broke three bones. I’ll bet if I was practicing mindfulness, I would have seen those shoes or at least slowed down.

The Mayo Clinic defines Mindfulness as

Mindfulness is the act of being intensely aware of what you’re sensing and feeling at every moment — without interpretation or judgment.

It may not have saved my ankle, but it could have decreased the stress I was feeling at the moment. I should have been thinking about being in the moment with Edward, my husband and our dogs. I was intensely thinking about getting the dogs inside and putting away the groceries, so I could get to writing what I needed for school the next week.

One exercise to practice that I mentioned in the “Positive Psychology” blog, was Paying Attention. I am amazed at people who can remember names of individuals who they met a long time ago. One of the things they do is they listen closely to the person’s name and what they are saying. Maybe what makes that person unique. If you make an effort to understand a person, it makes an imprint on your memory. It seems now people are rushing to make opinions or pass judgement. If you procrastinate or become irritated that you have to do a task,  and you can’t change it, try to change how you feel about it. It can be simple. Like making the bed in the morning. Hate it?

“If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed,” U.S. Navy Adm. William H. McCraven told the graduates of his alma mater [the University of Texas] on May 16.

McCraven, the commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command, relayed several lessons he has learned in 36 years as a Navy SEAL, starting with some advice that was music to the ears of exasperated mothers everywhere.

“If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day,” he said. “It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task, and another, and another. And by the end of the day that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed.

Take notice how you are breathing when you are irritated. When an individual is experiencing an anxiety attack, most likely they are breathing quickly and shallow. Since that person is restricting the oxygen to his or her body, it is going to react. Panic then starts. At that point and at certain times of the day, you may want to focus on your breathing. I really like the app Calm. My Fitbit has a relax exercise on it to help me remember to Breathe.

The next important and sometimes ignored exercise is Meditation. If you haven’t seen the 2010 Julia Robert’s movie Eat Pray Love based on the book of the same name by Elizabeth Gilbert, the scene where Liz is trying to meditate initially is really funny.

 

If you feel like that, here’s a website to get you started:  https://www.verywell.com/practice-basic-meditation-for-stress-management-3144789   If you can’t sit cross-legged anymore, just sit in a straight-backed chair. Who is going to judge you? Remember – don’t yard stick yourself. No mantra necessary.

My students say music helps them relax. Some always ask to listen while they write or read. While some of the music they would listen to would not relax me or help me concentrate, I do like Norah Jones and some jazz when I write. The benefits of music has finally been recognized by the medical community as therapeutic. Some of my musically talented students are going into Music Therapy.

If meditation makes you crazy and your thoughts keep racing, take time to observe them. It has never helped me to try to dam thoughts up. They sneak back into your peace, don’t they? Let them flow. Journal them. You may find they quiet down. You may find they are silly. You may find the answer to quieting them. I have been known to play Mario Kart to make myself slow down and concentrate so I can write.

In other words, it is okay to make your own activity. If it allows you to be less stressed and more at peace so that you can practice mindfulness, good for you.