written by Rachael Hunt
The topic of mindfulness is hot right now. But it’s an important one at that. The subject matter is picking up steam and more people are understanding the benefits of practicing it regularly. The statistics around our society’s stress levels are beyond concerning. According to Stats Canada, 23% of Canadians 15 or older deem their life stress level as “quite a bit” or “extremely stressful.” Life stress can refer to a slew of things, such as work, relationships, health (a common stress-related factor), money or family. In a way this doesn’t come as much of a surprise, given we are also plagued with the “busy” complex. This is the tendency to fill our social calendars to the brim with meetings, events, and social engagements in an effort to achieve a sense of importance. We have almost forgotten that it is OK to take time for ourselves.
Becoming mindful is a daily practice and effort that requires us to become aware of how our actions, behaviours, environment, and activities are affecting our mental and physical state. It creates that space we all need, whether we’re conscious of it or not. As humans, we need to recharge the batteries, just like our beloved devices. There is a reason why the most successful individuals in the world have added meditation to their regular routine.
For me, mindfulness first came in the form of meditation. It sort of found me at the right time when things in my life seemed to be crashing around me. Meditation began to rework the voice in my head from constant negative chatter to positivity. I promise, as little as five minutes a day can make a difference. And trust me, my practice isn’t always consistent, some days and weeks I struggle to quiet the mind and sit still long enough to get a good meditation in, but I think it’s important on so many levels. The great thing is that it’s something I can always return to when it feels right. I am a huge advocate of meditation for a number of reasons, but my top 5 are below.
Take a couple deep breaths and become mindful of your surroundings in the present moment. This is one of the simplest ways to reduce stress and calm the nervous system. Cultivating a consistent meditation practice will allow you to approach difficult situations and circumstances over time.
2. Increased productivity
With less time spent stressing and worrying, you will in fact be able to accomplish more. It acts as a coping mechanism and clears the pathway of a cluttered mind to get it all done!
3. Increased creativity
With your mind clutter-free, all of those brilliant ideas that have been hiding in the corners are coming forth and presenting themselves. Some of your greatest plans and concepts can come during or shortly after a meditation session.
If you’ve been ruminating over something in your mind, replaying the details of an exchange you had at work or an argument you had with a loved one, meditation can help. It provides you with the tools to get clear on the situation.
5. Overall happiness
Meditation lends itself to the focus on all that is good in one’s life through gratitude. A shift in attitude can do wonders for your mood, energy and general state of being!