As we move into October, we begin a month of intentional awareness and mindfulness at Sanara. We invite you to join us for our kickoff Saturday, October 1st from 2-3:30! Kim will guide us on why mediation and being present is so important in our daily lives. She will also show us a variety of options where we are confident you will find a type of meditation that works for you!
Being present is being mindful.
Mindfulness is the practice of being fully present. When you think about being present in the moment as an act of being mindful, you put yourself in a position to let go of any expectations and have trust in the unfolding. Stepping back from the rat race to focus on the moment at hand allows you to recognize your feelings, thoughts and emotions in real time. It’s like taking a blurry, up close and out of focus snapshot and backing away in order for the details to become clearer. By tuning into your current surroundings you are able to understand and appreciate your experiences even more.
Some simple ways we can Practice being Present and transform our lives:
Meditation comes with many emotional, physical, and spiritual benefits. This practice helps manage stress and allows for a relaxation response within the body. When practicing meditation, the only thing that exists is in that moment. Mediation allows for creativity, new ideas, and sometimes a feeling of connectedness with something bigger than oneself. For some, meditation may have powerful spiritual implications. For others, it may allow for grounding and connectedness with their physical body. Since mediation helps lower stress levels, it can become an essential component in managing chronic health issues like anxiety, chronic pain, insomnia, hypertension, inflammatory illnesses, tension headaches, and autoimmune disorders. By offering ourselves the opportunity for stress reduction and taking time to reflect and re-center, we can shift focus from external events into our bodies - this is a form of self-love. By calming our minds and our bodies, we get in tune with ourselves. One of my favorite ways of meditating involves turning down the lights and lighting a candle while turning on relaxation and meditation music. I start with slow, deep breaths and focus on the sounds of the music. If a thought comes into my mind, I notice and move it to an imaginary sticky noted in the side of my mind to attend to later. Then I shift my focus back to my breathing and the music. Of course, mediation does not have to happen at night, nor in a quiet bedroom. Once you get the hang of it you can practice anywhere, even while waiting in line at the grocery store or carpool line.
One of my favorite things to practice with clients is guided imagery meditation. After centering and calming through breath and focus, think of an image of something pleasing and calming. Then take a panoramic scan of the scene. The trick to effective visualization involves full sensory awareness. For a beach scene, it might be something like this:
Picture being at the beach and focusing on the images and colors that you see. Perhaps it’s a blue sky with white puffy clouds or blue-green water. Imagine the beach smells, such as the salty air or the smell of sunscreen. Imagine the taste of salt on your lips and the sounds of seagulls or waves crashing. Then feel the warm sun or cool beach breeze on your face. Start at the left and scan 180 degrees from left to right, noticing all the colors and details that you might usually miss.
3. Yoga & Stretching
Yoga & Stretching allow us to center and become grounded in our bodies. When we are stressed or anxious our muscles tend to tighten up, becoming tense. This fight, flight, or freeze stress response sends chemicals and oxygen to our large muscle groups so we can respond to any real or perceived threat. Our bodies react the same way as if a scary animal chased us. In our modern life, we are not typically in physical or immediate danger, and we do not need these extra chemicals and oxygen. When we live in a state of pent-up stress, our bodies never get to discharge and release this built-up tension. Yoga and stretching assist in that release and become a way to treat our bodies kindly and with love. With yoga and stretching, the focus is on breathing, being present, and gently moving; not so much on burning calories or achieving demanding physical poses. When we stretch our muscles and center into our physical bodies, feelings of relaxation and rejuvenation can emerge.
Perhaps one of the simplest, purest, and most effective ways to practice self-love involves intentional breathing. Of course, we breathe every day without thinking about it. But when we practice breathing as a method for stress management, we are showing ourselves love. As we quiet our minds and focus on our inhalations and exhalations, our bodies fill with life-sustaining oxygen, which gets transported throughout our bodies, right down to a cellular level. On an emotional level, breathing allows us to come into our bodies while focusing on the present moment. There are excellent apps as well that can prompt us to breathe correctly and intentionally. I prefer deep breathing from the diaphragm, called “belly breathing.” By placing one hand on your heart and another on your stomach, you can tell if you are breathing correctly. The belly should move upward and out first, followed by the chest. Often when we are stressed or in a state of anxiety, breathing becomes shallow and from the chest. Slow and deep inhalations and exhalations trigger an immediate relaxation response. For an even more effective method, pair a one-word phrase or mantra with deep breathing. While inhaling, think, I am peace, and while exhaling, breath out any negative feelings or beliefs.
Connect to nature
Being present helps you become a healthier, happier, version of you. We hope that you will jump in this month and join us as we intentionally bring awareness to our lives by prioritizing mindfulness and discovering the transformation that will come from your commitment to YOU.