Weekly Wellness Word: Presence

Monthly Theme: Breathing

This week’s word is Presence

Imagine yourself stretched out on a soft, grassy spot on the bank of the creek. Dangle one foot down in the water, feeling the cool wetness slither through your toes. Take a deep breath. Lift your face upward into the warmth of the sun. The gentle breeze plays with the ends of your hair. Listen to the singing of the birds coming from up above. A chipmunk scurries down a tree trunk. The damp smell of moss in the deep forest permeates the air.

Watch how the water flows endlessly, from upstream to downstream. Upstream the water is shallow. You can hear it trip and fall over the rocks as it carves its way around sandbars and fallen branches. Downstream it empties into a big, deep pool and the water flows ever so slowly. You are watching everything, experiencing it, taking it all in, enjoying this little corner of creation. You sit in silence for a minute or two.

Out of the corner of your eye you see some things floating on the creek towards you. You strain your eyes to try to see what they are. As the first one comes into view you recognize it as an event from your life this past week. You recollect where you were when it took place, what you were doing, who was with you. You remember how you felt in that moment. You sit with the memory for a moment, then slowly you release it back into the creek to continue its journey downstream. You let it go, as you must, because moments are just that - momentary. They come to you, seemingly out of nowhere. You experience them. And then they are gone. You cannot cling to them. Every moment of your life comes as a gift, is lived, and passes by. Only the future knows where your moments go from here, how they will affect the course of history.

Now the next event from your week comes into view, bobbing on the water. You recognize it. You recollect the circumstances. You remember your feelings. Then you release it to continue its journey. Stay in this posture for a few minutes. Remember your week savoring each memory then come slowly come back into the present, to this space and time.

Each moment is a gift and the only gift you can give to it is yourself. How do you respond when you read that statement? Does it ring true or do you notice an internal resistance to the idea? If you don't believe that, just chat for a moment with a person whose family member has Alzheimer's Disease or whose child died too soon or who recently lost a loved one to cancer. Life is precious. Each moment passes, never to come our way again.

This week try to consider each moment as a gift. Give yourself fully to it, regardless of whether it is a joyful moment or a stressful one. Let it be what it is meant to be. Then savor it. Be grateful for it, even if it feels hard. Notice whether you have an increase or decrease in peace, hope and love by approaching each moment in this way.

Quote of the Week

Mindfulness means actively paying attention to what is happening in the present moment by attuning to that moment without judging if it is good or bad, right or wrong. It is living your life with purpose, knowing each moment really matters, and actually noticing what is happening to you and around you. Mindfulness is an awareness of every sensation you feel and every thought and emotion you have, and then accepting them as your truth without criticism. When you're practicing mindfulness, you're fully focused on the hear and now, the moment you're living right this minute, instead of dwelling on things that happened yesterday or imagining what might happen tomorrow.

Since we aren't automatically mindful, we have to teach ourselves to be. Typically, we're off and running, doing this and that, and breezing through our lives, which often means we're missing a lot that's happening around us, and to us, simply because we're not paying attention. Mindfulness keeps us focused on the task at hand instead of worrying about how other people are completing the same task or if we're doing it right or wrong. It can help us keep an open mind about everything. When you're mindful, you don't pass judgment. You listen, understand, and know the experience is worthwhile. You don't judge others for their decisions because it is their path, not your own. Mindfulness will change you, transforming your perception of the world and the way you act and react to other people. It also changes the way you perceive yourself and your place within the diving. Mindfulness teaches you to observe instead of reacting, to remain calm instead of losing your temper, and to create effective reactions to the situations you find yourself involved in instead of responding blindly based on emotion. Mindfulness broadens your horizons, expands your mind, and gives you profound insights into spirituality.

- The Simplicity of Cozy: Hygge, Lagom & The Energy of Everyday Pleasures by Melissa Alvarez

Next Step

Journaling/Coloring

This is a two-part exercise. First, we'll look at journaling, and then let's get out the colored pencils and crayons!

Getting into the habit of journaling can help you keep track of the progress you're making while you're practicing mindfulness. Being in the moment, being more aware, and noticing the small things as well as the big picture are all aspects of mindfulness. Writing down the things you notice is a mindful activity. The more you write, the more you will notice and the more you notice, the more you will write. Mindful journaling helps you feel more present in your life, helps increase your awareness, and helps you see areas where you can practice being more mindful.

As you write in your mindfulness journal, try to include as many details about your observations as possible. Include what you see, the smell of the air around you, what something felt like, the sounds you heard, and what something tasted like. Adjectives are your best friend when writing about what your senses felt. Being descriptive in your writing allows you to feel more present and in the present moment, even if the moment was earlier in the day. It also helps you to get back into that same mindful place and the feelings you felt when you give full complete descriptions in your journal. Entries in your mindfulness journal can help you in the future to deepen your connection to mindful living.

Today, the coloring books for adults are marketed to help you become more mindful, to ease stress, and to relax. Looking at them after you've finished is a mindful practice. So head to your closest retailer, grab a coloring book that appeals to you, and get a box of colored pencils or crayons. Back at home, find a place where you can get comfortable, where it's quiet, and choose a picture from the book. Now start to color and notice what happens.

As you color, you'll notice that your breathing slows down, you get more relaxed, and you feel calmer and more in tune with your inner self. Your mind starts to get quiet and the chatterbox that is usually talking a mile a minute shuts up (except to suggest a color choice here and there). Coloring engages your imagination, boosts your mindfulness, and increases your creativity. Date each one somewhere on the page or on the back with a note or two for yourself, that way when you look back at them, you'll remember the coloring session and how you felt in that moment.

- The Simplicity of Cozy: Hygge, Lagom & The Energy of Everyday Pleasures by Melissa Alvarez

Further Information

For a deeper dive into self-awareness, click on the link below for the Mindfulness Matters: Can Living in the Moment Improve Your Health? article by the National Institutes of Health. https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2012/01/mindfulness-matters

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