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7 Ways to Let Mindfulness Change Your View of the World

7 Ways to Let Mindfulness Change Your View of the World

As paradoxical as it sounds, mindfulness is a way to escape from your problems by addressing them. But contrary to what you might think, it doesn’t just happen in a quiet room. You can be mindful in any situation. Like a jedi, it helps to train yourself. Begin practicing in a meditative setting with no distractions. Then, take your practice into the world.

Immersive activities are a perfect opportunity to practice mindfulness. An immersive activity is one in which you concentrate on process. You’re putting one foot in front of the other. While you’re doing this, any type of thought might come knocking at your door, unbidden.

Don’t judge your thoughts. Thoughts, when they surface from the subconscious to the conscious mind, are equivalent to things that appear in the field of vision. This rock has its particular texture, its color, and its shape (even its taste!). That thought has its particular context, its substance, its subject, and its associations. A thought is not good or bad unless you judge it. If you judge a thought, hang on to it, and brood over it, that’s when it affects you negatively.

Try these activities and practice monitoring your breathing. Practice being mindful of your thoughts and setting.

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1. Write a poem.

writing

    Poetry facilitates mindfulness because it’s the act of recording your thoughts. In this case, the thoughts you write down can center on your surroundings — but they don’t have to. They can be thoughts about your thoughts. This act of poetry is an exercise of mindfulness, translated onto the page. Just as you don’t judge your thoughts, don’t judge what you’re writing. The more mindful you are of your body and surroundings, the more thoughts pop up. This is the wellspring of creativity.

    Having trouble getting started? There are poetry writing exercises that can help.

    2. Take a walking tour.

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    Venice_002

      Vacations can be full of frenzied efforts to do as much as possible. But on your next vacation, consider taking a walking tour. The slow pace will help you immerse yourself in the movements of your body and your surroundings. There are some excellent cities for a walking tour, such as Venice, which is primarily vehicle-free. Copenhagen, Seattle, Paris, and Florence are also well-suited for walking tours. New surroundings are excellent for mindfulness, because they don’t present old associations.

      3. Ride a horse.

      horseback

        There’s a reason why equine-assisted therapy helps people who suffer from PTSD, as well as drug and alcohol dependency. Interacting with a horse helps lower blood pressure and stress levels. It helps people cope with anxiety and anger. PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) victims, in particular, can’t help but return to thoughts associated with trauma. Riding a horse helps them focus on the present. Take a horseback ride and pay attention to the feel of the animal, its muscular movement, and its breathing. Study the trail as it passes. Note your posture and how you hold the reins. This will improve your mindfulness.

        4. Adopt a dog.

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        Young_boy_petting_his_dog

          There’s been plenty of research on why pets make us happy. They make us more conscientious — more mindful — and more social. Specifically, petting a dog causes your brain to release the neurotransmitters dopamine and oxytocin, as well as the hormone prolactin. Dopamine and oxytocin are both associated with rewards and pleasure. In one study, adopting a dog helped bring down blood pressure levels in hypertensive New York City stockbrokers. The very act of petting a dog requires you to be mindful of the animal. Taking a dog for a walk will help you focus on the world as a dog sees it — and we all know dogs are some of the most mindful, aware animals in the world.

          5. Watch birds.

          birding

            Birdwatching (or “birding,” as some like to call it) is a fantastic way to immerse yourself in the environment. You’ll concentrate directly on the plumage and movements, as well as the space where birds come and go — just like thoughts. In a way, birding is mindfulness incarnate. The Audubon Society has some tips on how to begin birding. It helps to consult a field guide to learn about the birds and where they live. Make sure you have binoculars. And most importantly, just go do it. I recommend simply immersing yourself in an area where you know there are plenty of birds.

            6. Take a hike.

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            hikingrocks

              This is the classic activity for mindfulness. Walking in the woods is great for your health. It promotes awareness of your surroundings and relieves stress. Like horseback riding, hiking is a form of therapy for PTSD. Take your time while hiking, observe the trees, undergrowth, and wildlife carefully. If your thoughts start to stray, let them. But let the woods bring your thoughts back to where you are.

              7. Plant a garden.

              16338-a-woman-enjoying-gardening-outdoors-pv

                If you’d like to know how to plant a vegetable garden, it’s key to find a good location that will get plenty of sun and has the right soil. Uproot weeds, and turn the soil about a foot deep. Make sure it’s fertilized. Plan where you want to put your plants. The point is this: all of these activities are helping you concentrate on the space. You’re focused on the process, and the practice of mindfulness encourages you to focus on that process. After all, if you focus on the results — the hypothetical future — you’re not there with the garden, growing with it.

                Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

                More by this author

                Dan Matthews, CPRP

                A Certified Psychosocial Rehabilitation Practitioner with an extensive background working with clients on community-based rehabilitation.

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                Last Updated on May 22, 2019

                10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

                10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

                There are lots of studies that show if you do some exercise in the morning, you will be in a better mood all day long. You will have more energy and you will certainly be a better colleague, friend or partner.

                One psychologist at Duke University has researched the effects of exercise on depressed patients and he has come to the conclusion that exercise has a definite role in treating this condition and has an important role in preventing people from relapsing.[1] According to the New York Times, scientists have now established that exercise also boosts your brain power.[2]

                In addition, there are studies from the Appalachian State University which show that blood pressure can be reduced by doing regular morning exercise.[3]

                Here are 10 simple morning exercises that will help you feel great the whole day long. You can include some of them in your morning exercise routine or do them all at home without having to enrol in a gym. Consult your doctor before starting any form of exercise routine if you are new to this.

                1. Cat Camel Stretch

                Stretching exercises are useful for muscle toning and also preventing arthritis. They can either be dynamic or static.

                Dynamic ones such as the cat camel stretch, are particularly useful for doing other exercises in the morning. They are also beneficial at other times of the day, especially after long periods of sedentary work. This one is great for spinal flexibility and is a good warm up exercise.

                Kneel down on all fours. Start by rounding your back just like a camel so that your head will try to meet your pelvis. This is the camel position. Then lower and lift your head so that your lower back is arched. This is the cat position. Do these movements slowly and smoothly. About 4 or 5 times.

                Here’s a video to guide you through:

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                2. Go for a Walk or a Run

                This is better done outside so that you can connect with nature but running inside on a treadmill is almost as good. You can time yourself and increase length and time according to your fitness program.

                Always have new goals to reach. Start with brisk walking and work up to running. At my age, I am still walking!

                The health benefits are considerable. You can build stronger bones and you can help to maintain your weight.

                Also, you are helping your heart to stay healthy and keeping your blood pressure low.

                Learn more about the benefits of running here: 8 Benefits of Running 5 Minutes Every Day You Didn’t Know

                3. Jumping Jacks

                Michelle Obama is a great fan of this exercise and has become “Jumper in Chief.”[4] They are great for cardiovascular health and also for toning muscles especially the calves and the deltoids.

                Stand with feet together. Jump while spreading your arms and legs. Return to first position and keep going! You can start with doing these for 1 minute and then gradually build up to the number you are comfortable with. Here’s how:

                4. Abductor Side Lifts

                Watch the video below to see how to do this exercise. These muscles are important because you use them everyday to run, get into the car or onto and off a bicycle. They are very important also for your core stability and prevent the pelvis from tilting.[5]

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                Do about 10 to 15 raises for each side like this:

                5. Balancing Table Pose

                This is a classic yoga pose. It benefits the spine, balance, memory and concentration.

                Start with the table pose (hands and knees). Breathe in before starting each movement. As you exhale, raise your left leg parallel to the floor as you raise the right arm, also parallel to the floor. Breathe in as you lower arm and leg. Repeat for the other side. 10 repetitions on each side is a good starting point.

                ablab

                  6. Leg Squats

                  Not just legs are involved but also hips and knees.

                  Stand with your feet a bit further out from your hips. Arms are out in front of you. Then lower yourself as if you wanted to sit down until you reach a 90 degree angle. You can go down further if you want to. Then return to the starting position. Repeat 15 times for 2 sets for beginners.

                  The benefits are that these exercises help with knee stability and can benefit the leg muscles such as quadriceps, hamstrings and calves.[6]

                  7. Push Ups

                  You start lying down (face down) but with your body held up at arm’s length. Your hands should be in line with your shoulders. Breathe in as you lower your body. That is fairly easy. Now, as you exhale, you have to get back up to the starting position.

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                  An easier version to start with is to bend your legs at the knees so you do not have to lift your whole body.

                  Beginners may take up to a month to be able to do 100 push ups so you will have to start with a very small number and gradually increase it.

                  This exercise is great for strengthening the chest, shoulders and the triceps. It is a great strengthening exercise for many muscle groups. In fact, most muscles from the toes to the shoulders are being used.

                  8. Bicycle Crunches

                  There are numerous crunch exercises targeting the abs. The bicycle crunch is a variation where you work more muscle groups. Aim for 15 to 20 reps to start off with.

                  Watch the video to see how this is done correctly:

                  9. Lunges

                  Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Place your hand on your hips. Take one giant step forward with the right leg. Make sure the knee does not go too far forward, that is, past your toes. The left knee will go down to almost floor level. Alternate the legs as you go on.

                  Try to do a set of between 8 and 12 reps for each leg. It is important to allow for a day of rest, so this exercise should be done on alternate days, especially if you are using weights.

                  This exercise is great for strengthening and toning the quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings.

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                  10. Bicep Curls

                  You can do this sitting down so if you spend a lot of time on the phone, this is a great exercise to do.

                  Choose suitable dumbbells or another household object that you can easily hold. Sit down with the dumbbell in your hand. You need to sit forward a bit so that your triceps can lean on your thigh to give you support.

                  Then bring the weighted arm up to shoulder length and then down again. Exhale as you lift the weight and inhale as you lower it.

                  Here’re some important notes before you start doing this exercise:

                  Try to do one or two sets of about ten repetitions for each arm and then switch arms.

                  These exercises are really useful for toning the arm muscles.[7] In addition, they can strengthen and tone the brachioradialis muscle located in the forearm. These are the muscles we use to pick up things when we flex the arm at the elbow so we use these muscles countless times a day.

                  You may have to build in a rest day for the heavier exercises, numbers 6–10. On the rest days, you can do gentler stretching exercises and also some walking or running.

                  Morning exercise is not only a great mood booster, but will help you keep your weight down and also sleep better![8] Start including one or some of these exercises in your morning routine!

                  More Articles About Exercises for Beginners

                  Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

                  Reference

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