We've all heard of the importance of mind, body and spirit wellness. I shared my belief about spirituality in my last post, but what does it mean to take care of your mind? I would suggest that a strong spirituality practice provides the foundation for a healthy mind. If we live our lives with love, gratitude, forgiveness, praise and grace we will be taking a huge, gigantic step toward maintaining a healthy mind.
Beyond being a spiritual person, some additional ways I feel that we can take care of our minds include mindfulness and meditation, mindset and thoughts, taking care of our physical body, and connectedness. I will expand on each of these in this post.
Mindfulness and Meditation
The practice of mindfulness can provide many benefits to our emotional and physical health, as well as to the relationships in our lives. Mindfulness is an amazing tool for stress management and overall wellness and it can be used at virtually any time and can quickly bring lasting results.
That all sounds great doesn't it, but what does mindfulness mean? The dictionary defines mindfulness as the intentional, accepting and non-judgmental focus of one's attention on the emotions, thoughts and sensations occurring in the present moment.
Mindfulness is a hot topic in Western psychology: increasingly recognized as an effective way to reduce stress, increase self-awareness, enhance emotional intelligence, and effectively handle painful thoughts and feelings. It is my understanding that mindfulness practice is being used in psychology to alleviate a variety of mental and physical conditions. Conditions such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, and in the prevention of relapse in depression and drug addiction.
Mindfulness is often associated with meditation. Meditation provides us with a tool to practice being mindful. Meditation brings many benefits in its own right, and has been one of the most popular and traditional ways to achieve mindfulness for centuries. Meditation is for mental health as exercise is for physical health.
I love what Pema Chodron says about...What is True Mindfulness? "Meditation isn't really about getting rid of thoughts, it's about changing the pattern of grasping on to things, which in our everyday experience is our thoughts. The thoughts are fine if they are seen as transparent, but we get so caught up judging thoughts as right or wrong, for and against, yes and no, needing it to be this way and not that way. And even that might be okay except that is accompanied by strong, strong emotions. So we just start ballooning out more and more. With this grasping onto thoughts we just get more caught, more and more hooked. All of us. Every single one of us."
When Trungpa Rinpoche came to the West and was teaching, he used to tell the students: "Just sit and let your mind open and rest— let yourself be completely open with an open mind, and whenever you get distracted and find yourself thinking— in other words when you are no longer fully in the present and are carried away— simply just come back again to resting your mind in an open state."
There are many different ways to meditate, finding a style that suits you is important. It's also important to know that meditating does not need to take any particular form or take a ton of time. Meditating can incorporate what you might typically think of, but walking the dog can be a form of meditating for some, cleaning for others or riding bike. My sister meditates while she is walking on the treadmill...killing two birds with one stone! Find what suits you and do it for whatever time you can routinely fit into your schedule. If you have 2 minutes, 5 minutes or 30 minutes it doesn't necessarily matter. What matters is that you fit in what works for you.
I can attest to the amazing benefits of incorporating a meditation practice into my life and into my family's life. Stress melts away, your heart opens to love and peacefulness. I just can't say enough about how meditation can enhance your overall well-being. I will devote future blog posts to the topics of mindfulness and meditation. Do you currently have a meditation practice? If you do, I would love to hear about it! Please share your favorite meditation practice with us in your comment :)
Having a positive mindset has often been touted as important to living a healthy life. Why is this so important? Is it important to always be optimistic and think positive thoughts? I spent my life until recently figuring that it was probably important, but not giving it the credence that it really deserved, and I certainly didn't always practice managing my thoughts. I can tell you with utmost certainty now that it is important. It's important because your thoughts become things and like things attract.
Everything you are thinking about, dreaming about, reliving over and over again from your past, you are bringing into your future. Especially if you add to that thought feeling and emotion. Feelings are the bridge to creating your thoughts. Whatever you focus your attention and energy on, you will bring more of that into your life.
The thoughts we think in our mind, and the emotions we feel in our heart, create the physical reality we experience as life. When a thought is given substance with emotion it is felt in the heart, which then radiates energy and information out into the world. Every thought has its own vibrational energy.
Others pick up on the frequency, or vibration, and are attracted to it or repelled by it depending on their frequency at a particular time.
If we can manage to control our thoughts, we are effectively controlling our emotions, which in turn is controlling our behavior. If we control our thoughts and behaviors we are effectively controlling our mind energy and the frequencies that we are sending out to the world.
Look for my blog post in the upcoming weeks on the rice experiment that I did with my kids. It is amazing and it's proof that thoughts become things :) I have to say that the rice experiment is what drove home this concept for me. I would highly recommend everyone perform the experiment!
“As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.” Henry David Thoreau
In addition to the practice of daily gratitude (as mentioned in my previous post), a daily practice of positive affirmations is also a great way to help keep our thoughts healthy and therefore our mind healthy. Refer to my Affirmations tab for some to help you get started! Do you currently have an affirmation practice that you follow? If so, I would love to hear about it! What are some of your favorite affirmations?
You may have heard of the Law of Attraction. Like attracts like, positive energy attracts more positive energy and similarly negative energy attracts more negative energy. This is the same concept as thoughts become things. I'll devote a future blog post to the discussion of the Law of Attraction, intention and manifesting.
Minding the body
Similar to how the spirit is connected to the health of your mind, so is your physical body. The health of your mind is dependent on regular physical exercise, adequate sleep, nutrition and hydration.
Exercise, like meditation, provides a needed stress relief. Physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that may leave you feeling happier and more relaxed. You may also feel better about your appearance and yourself when you exercise regularly, which can boost your confidence and improve your self-esteem.
I will discuss all of these topics further in future blog posts as well.
Research shows that a lack of social connection is a greater detriment to health than obesity, smoking and high blood pressure. On the the flip side, strong social connection leads to a 50% increased chance of longevity. Social connection strengthens our immune system, helps us recover from disease faster, and may even lengthen our life. People who feel more connected to others have lower rates of anxiety and depression. Studies also show that connectedness causes higher self-esteem, more empathy toward others, and more trust and cooperation. Social connectedness generates a positive cycle of social, emotional and physical well-being. Unfortunately, the opposite is also true for those who lack social connectedness. Low social connection has been associated with declines in physical and psychological health, as well as a higher propensity to antisocial behavior which then leads to further isolation.
With our busy schedules, social connections can be pretty far down on our “to do” lists. Our culture tends to place value on hard work, success, and wealth, so it’s no surprise some of us do not set aside enough time for social connection when we think security lies in material things rather than other people. Our overall health and wellness depends on us placing equal value on our social connectedness.
There are many other ways to help promote a healthy mind, but for me the key concepts of spirituality, mindfulness and meditation, mindset and thoughts, taking care of our physical body, and connectedness are the most important. These will go a long way toward maintaining your overall health and wellness.
Do you have other suggestions for how to "mind the hot mess". If you do, I would love to hear your thoughts, so please comment below.
Our overall wellness is reliant on the inter-connectedness of the spirit, the mind and the body. As I'm wrapping up my blog on the mind and moving on to my next post about the physical body, I would like to offer up this quote..."Emotion always has its roots in the unconscious and manifests itself in the body." ~Irene Claremont de Castillejo