Mindfulness is the process of being present with your surroundings and with what you are doing and feeling. When we are mindful we are centered and experience more contentment. When we are unmindful we lose control over our actions and become reactive. If we remain fully aware we will appreciate the present moment, be satisfied with less, and as a result, make healthier choices.
It is such a simple concept – mindfulness – that most of us don’t realize the importance of it. Numerous studies in the past decade have proven that one cannot lose weight and maintain it by just cutting calories (without exercise), and conversely, one cannot lose weight by exercise alone (without cutting calories). Now the most recent research has shown that without the third tier of wellness – mindfulness – no diet or exercise program will become a permanent lifestyle habit. Diet, exercise, and mindful practices must be done in conjunction with one another for any one of them of to be effective in the long-term.
Being outdoors and connecting to nature is essential to our well-being: Studies have shown that just five minutes of outdoor exercise boosts self-esteem. But many people today connect more with the internet world than they do with the natural world around them. This causes not only many physical diseases of indoor living (cardiovascular disease, diabetes, myopia), but psychological effects such as stress, depression, and attention-deficit disorder. Although we are instinctively drawn to the peace and harmony of nature during difficult times, we have a tendency to ignore it in the rush of our overscheduled lives.
Connecting to nature is the key element in the restoration of mindfulness. When we are in harmony with the seasons and the rituals of nature, we can be in respectful harmony with our body and better able to accept its cycles and seasons of life.
- Create a new ritual of journaling one day each week, but give yourself the choice of writing on the other days, and you will do it because you want to, not because you have to.
- Choose a quiet special place where you will not be interrupted. Lock the door if you must – and mute your phone.
- Select a journal or notebook and pen/pencil which appeals to you. Unlined paper is preferred, to encourage creativity. Date each entry, as well as the cover of each journal you complete.
- Write by hand so you can connect to your feelings and your breath. And resist the urge to judge or censor your writing.
Journaling helps us to learn from our past, live freely in the present, and move mindfully into the future.