“The only regret I have is that I didn’t do it sooner” said Marsha, a one-time skeptic and naysayer about mindfulness practices. Her story is a prime example of how you can transform your life – in as little as ten minutes a day.
By Guest Contributor Lena Kushnir, Ed.D.
Before Marsha began her mindfulness practices, her health was in jeopardy. Her cholesterol was 260, her blood pressure was 160/90 and her sugar levels indicated that she was pre-diabetic. She couldn’t sleep at night because her mind would, “go in 20 million places.”
After a few months of 10 minutes of daily mindfulness practice before bed, Marsha lost 50 pounds and lowered all of her numbers – her blood pressure went down to 117/70, her cholesterol went down to 133 and her blood sugar moved into the normal range at 92. In discussing her transformation, Marsha noted, “I feel amazing! Not a lot has changed in terms of the things that are stressors – it’s just the way I look at it.
The weight loss has been critical for Marsha, and something she’s been working on for years. “I’ve been on every diet out there. They always went haywire for different reasons. The only difference is that I am now doing mindfulness practice, which is allowing me to be more successful with my current healthy eating program. I don’t live to eat now, I eat to live.”
What is Mindfulness?
At its essence, mindfulness is about being fully present with your current experiences and accepting them as they are. Just as we need consistent exercise to build our physical muscles, we need consistent practice to build our “mindfulness muscles.” The more we practice, the more we feel mindfulness rising up in our lives during those moments when we need it most.
How to Get Started With Mindfulness Practices
The most important step in getting started is to set aside time – as little as ten minutes – for daily formal practice. Getting started on your own can be tough, so I recommend finding an app that can guide you through mindfulness meditations (Headspace; Stop, Breathe & Think; Take a Break; and Insight Timer are some good ones to check out).
Informal mindfulness practices can be woven into your day as well – finding opportunities to take a few deep breaths and bring yourself fully to the moment; taking a few moments of gratitude before you eat; turning your phone on “do not disturb” before a meeting or call and grounding yourself in a few breaths before you begin; using daily occurrences as cues to breathe, such as every time you stop at a red light.
Lena Kushnir is an educator and mindfulness instructor in the Chicago area. Learn more at: http://www.mindfulnessrisingllc.com/