Be Still. Be Free. Be Content.

A lifestyle blog about achieving balance in your everyday life.

Practicing Mindfulness to Reduce Stress & Anxiety
Friday, November 27, 2015

Practicing Mindfulness to Reduce Stress & Anxiety

There’s no doubt that all of us are busy. We are so busy that we have a second to-do list just to help us complete our actual to-do list. Our lives are consumed with lists upon lists. With so many competing demands on our time and with endless stimulus coming from 24-hour social media posts, spam email, and unlimited text messages – how do we settle the noise?

I’ll be sharing several articles on how we can eliminate some of the chaos in our everyday life and take time to be, not to-do.

After losing my brother, Chad, to cancer a few years ago, I reached a critically low point and was looking for a way to bounce back. My brother had lived a very inspired and transformational life and I didn’t want to let him down. His legacy was built on determination and I was determined to find peace.

This led me to mindfulness and it truly transformed my life. The practice of mindfulness is about being present in this moment without judgment.

A mindfulness meditation practice is very helpful in getting you present in the moment. There are a number of exercises that you can do. Most simply, you can use your breath as an anchor and focus on calm, relaxed breathing. You can do this while sitting, laying, walking, driving or standing in line. It is a powerful tool to settle your racing mind. 

The body scan can also be an effective practice. You can search “mindfulness body scan” on YouTube or Google to get more information. Tara Brach has an amazing YouTube video that I would highly recommend. The video will guide you through a mindfulness practice while you explore your body – from your toes up to your head as it is in the moment­ – without fixing it or judging it.

Learning to “pause” throughout your day or remembering to check in with yourself before a stressful event is a great way to include mindfulness in your everyday life as well.

Continued mindfulness practice is very important, so I recommend a daily practice with an exercise that’s suited to your needs. You’ll be surprised how even a short practice everyday can help to reshape your brain and calm your racing thoughts.

The West Michigan area has the perfect resource for mindfulness with the Grand Rapids Center for Mindfulness; where you can take 8-week classes in Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, Mindfulness Based Self Compassion and other classes­ – in addition to offering retreats and seminars.

The Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction courses were designed by Jon Kabat-Zinn. He is the director of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. His books include Coming To Our Senses: Healing Ourselves and the World Through Mindfulness.

As we close out this year, I’m so grateful to report that I’ve gotten back in control of my life and now can continue to reflect on my brother Chad’s GREATNESS with more positive emotion and less anxiety and depressed moods. I owe this to the practice of mindfulness.

Life is meant to be lived and not to be a series of tasks, projects, to-do lists and errands. Be sure to take time for yourself, your family, and your friends. Don't live your life in such a way that you have regrets. Be present in the moment for those whom love you.

Take time to be, not to do.

Nathan

Nathan Hickman, Founder

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