Have you ever noticed that sometimes your thoughts can run on autopilot? The incessent mental chatter is what is addressed in stress management. Entertaining the same thoughts day in and day out which corroborate with our routinized behaviors and causing the same experiences as a result which feedback to reinforce the same thought patterns. This is a cycle of thinking, behavior and results. The input takes place on a mental level and the output is experienced on a physical/material level. Have you ever dreaded a meeting? Thinking you can’t stand the person, the upcoming meeting that you’ve been resisting is stressing you out putting you in a bad mood (behavior), as a result the meeting goes terribly and this reinforces the initial seeded thought that this person infuriates you, do you see how this cycle of thought, behavior and result is affecting so many aspects of your life? It can also be a beautifully virtuous cycle, thinking “I am healthy” and the corresponding behavior is to choose healthy activities and food, the result is being in good health which reinforces the thought.
Mindfulness is simply being present to our internal dialogues and noticing the quality of our thought patterns, noticing the rhythms of our body, noticing the present moment rather than being wrapped up in regrets from the past or worries about the future. It distills everything back down to the ‘here and now’ arming us with conscious choice in creating a moment of stillness for ourselves.
Why is it important to create this stillness in our thoughts? If we don’t notice we can’t change. If you just reflect on the news stories we are bombarded with, events, threats, disasters- most pieces are skewed to the negative, that is because we are more receptive to bad news, we have a 7:1 negative bias. This bias holds true even in how we select our own thoughts, give yourself a moment to pause, aren’t you your biggest critic? We often focus on our faults and are very hard on ourselves, this negative self talk can spiral into a depression if we aren’t aware of our self limiting beliefs. Mindfulness shines a light on the quiet voice in our heads and gives us ownership in how we sculpt our outlook and identity.
At Inspire Yoga we use a system of 3 mindfulness techniques to expand our awareness to the subtlety of the mind. Mindful movements connect our body to the present moment, isn’t it rare that we notice our body, aren’t we usually lost in thought? This brings us back to present and gives us something tangible to focus on- try thinking about your meeting next week while in a balancing pose, you will certainly fall over! Entraining the mind to stay in the here and now by using the body and movement is a great starting point. We then move to breath awareness, have you ever noticed the temperature of your breath? Feel the coolness of your inhalation and the warmth of your exhalation, we breathe 24/7 but have we ever paid attention of the experience of breathing? Breathing techniques are designed to release energy blockages and allow a feeling of lightness and freedom. Finally we work on meditation, where we notice our own thought patterns, consciously reprogram negative beliefs that our sabotaging our behavior and break free of the corresponding difficult outcomes. When we operate from a place of fear and stress it affects us biochemically with cortisol and adrenaline being pumped through the body, the more we normalize this state of being the more addicted we become to the rush of adrenaline looking for behaviors to keep us in a state of stress. Mindfulness forces a stop on the stress trigger and activates the relaxation response which governs rest, immunity and digestion all vital functioning for optimal health.