Practice Staying WOKE! 4 Tips for Modern Mindfulness
Consciousness, awareness, being present, or of course- “woke af” — all of these terms really refer to the practice of mindfulness— but what does that even mean, really?
To understand the difference between mindlessness and mindfulness, think about sitting in the most boring class you ever had in school— like one of those weekly 3 hour lectures in college about mathematical theses. You’re one out of 100 students sitting in the classroom- and the professor is going on, and on… What are you thinking about? Are you tuning out the lecture while texting, scrolling through Instagram, thinking about whatever you did last night? Or, were you engaged in the lesson, were you present & focused on the lecture- actively taking notes and aware of the key points? Being mindful means to be fully in the here and now— it’s being focused & engaged in the moment.
Practicing mindfulness doesn’t just mean a better GPA — consciousness benefits the entire mind-body-spirit continuum, it reduces stress, stimulates creativity, and even increases gray matter in the brain…aka it makes you smarter. Sound a lot like meditation? Although mindfulness is a form of meditation, it doesn’t require sitting cross-legged in silence, staring at a candle, or any chanting of Om. Mindfulness is a living practice, applicable to any and every area of day-to-day life. Whether you’re a seasoned vet or a beginner, give these mindfulness practices a try— just remember, it’s a practice!
Just because you may be quiet while someone is talking, doesn’t necessarily mean you’re listening. The mind is a powerful thing, easily distracted and distracting. Often we can be in conversation with someone, or even on the phone, and not really paying attention to what it is they’re saying. Our minds are busy, thinking of the next thing to say- or thinking about something else entirely. Stop thinking! Quiet the mind, and actually listen to what they’re saying— just listen. Turn this into a 5-minute meditation— close your eyes and listen to what’s around you. Become aware of a sound— then let it go & move on to the next sound.
Perhaps the coolest sounding mindfulness practice, urge surfing helps you “ride the wave” and kick any bad habits. Late night junk food cravings derailing your health goals? Surf the urge! When those cravings strike, don’t panic- recognize it as a craving & know that it will pass. Experience the urge and how it may change by the minute. Notice how it may intensify and then perhaps dwindle…. Experts believe the majority of food cravings only last for about 3-5 minutes… push your willpower and ride it out!
The practice of mindful eating seems to be as buzzword heavy as keto but, this one’s not a diet! Shut off all the screens and put the phone down, being mindful while eating means no distractions. Instead of mindlessly devouring your meals while multitasking, use your senses to stay present in the moment. Slow down, experience how your food looks, how it smells, and of course how it tastes. Become more aware of each bite — maybe even incorporate whatever it is they say about how many times we should chew! The art of savoring your food can actually help you absorb more of the nutrients! Bonus, mindful eating can even curb those pesky cravings!
Mood Ring Technique (minus the mood ring):
The liquid crystals that are used in mood rings change in response to temperature— which of course is meant to change according to our mood. While we’re probably self-aware enough to know how it feels to be happy or upset, the visual aid serves as a reminder to be aware. Practice Mindfulness by observing your emotions & how that may be impacting your behavior.
In the spirit of the season and Thanksgiving, try applying mindfulness to what it is that you’re eating— what went into preparing your meal, the people involved in growing and harvesting the ingredients, what went into purchasing and production of the food, and what’s the source of each and every ingredient on your plate. Put these tips into practice and you’ll be amazed at all the subtle details that you begin to experience in life all around you. Suddenly you’ll notice things you never paid attention to before that were right in front of you all along!
No matter the path you choose, keep one golden rule in mind...eat what makes you happy, feel good, and enables you to "Live Your Fullest Everyday!"
1. Kussmann M, Affolter M, Fay LB: Proteomics in nutrition and health. Comb. Chem. High Throughput Screen. 8, 679-696 (2005).
2. Kussmann, Martin, and Laurent B. Fay. "Nutrigenomics and Personalized Nutrition: Science and Concept." Personalized Medicine. Medscape, 5 May 2008. Web. 23 Mar. 2016.
3. Nicholson, Ward. "What Happens If Vegetarian Diets Are Not Best for Everyone?" What Happens If Vegetarian Diets Are Not Best for Everyone? Beyond Vegetarianism, n.d. Web. 23 Mar. 2016.