The challenge of practicing mindfulness in the modern world
For many of us, after a long, stressful, calendar-packed day, our instinct is to make a cocktail or snack and sit in front of the television to “relax” when we get home. In reality, this doesn’t help our mind or body unwind or de-stress at all. In fact, it can make us even more restless, keep our sympathetic nervous system activated and cause us to have difficulty falling/staying asleep. If we really want to feel optimally relaxed, we need to practice mindfulness.
What is mindfulness?
Many people associate mindfulness with zen, structured yoga & meditation sessions. Although meditation is widely-used and can be a big aspect of mindfulness, it’s not the “be all and end all” of it. Simply put, mindfulness can be defined as the physiological process of being present, un-reactive, and aware of your surroundings & experiences.
Mindfulness trains our brain to find a place of calmness and focus so we can be more present in our daily lives. It can come in the form of writing in a journal, deep breathing, taking a walk, or simply being still and pausing what we’re doing to connect ourselves with whatever is infront of us. It’s being “unplugged”, living in the “now” and expressing gratitude, and more and more, science is showing that there are significant physical and mental benefits attached to it.
How can mindfulness be applied to everything we do
Mindfulness can be applied to everything we do. You’ve heard of “living in the moment” and sure, it might sound a little cliche, but it’s actually extremely powerful. By being present and “in the moment”, we can dramatically enhance our quality of life. One of the areas that we recommend using this approach and cultivating a mindful and intuitive practice is eating. When you think about it, we eat so often and have such abundant access to food resources that it’s often something we take for granted in our culture.
Dr. Bhat’s top five tips to start implementing a mindful eating
1. Prepare your own food
Cooking for ourselves and preparing our own meals is a great way to teach our body to eat mindfully. During the process of chopping, peeling, sauteing etc, the visuals and smells will alert our brain which will signal the rest of our body to prepare for nourishment. When we prepare our own food, we’re usually also more grateful for it because we can better understand that it took time and effort to make.
2. Put away electronics
You know those ringtones, beeps, e-mails, and emojis? Well having those in front of us with food in the mix can lead to overeating and eating too quickly, which can have a negative impact on digestion. Take the 15 minutes out of your day while eating a meal to put away electronics!
3. Sit down while you eat
Studies show that when we sit down while we eat, we’re more likely to pay attention to the actual food that’s infront of us and express gratitude. It gives us the space we need to tune it with ourselves, recognize our hunger signals, and eat intentionally & slowly.
4. Take in the food with all of your senses
The next time you sit down for a meal, ask yourself the following questions: What is the colour of your food? What are the sounds you hear? Does it smell sweet or savoury? What does the texture feel like when you chew? Are there any ingredients or flavours you can identify? Doing this can not only give you a deeper appreciation for your food but also prepare your body for digestion.
5. Practice “hara hachi bu”
This is a Japanese practice used by the Okinawan people that promotes eating until you are 80 percent full. How many times do you finish a meal and say to yourself “I’m full!” – The goal of hara hachi bu is to stop eating BEFORE you reach this point. The Okinawan are known to be one of the longest lived, healthiest communities on the planet!
About The Movement Boutique in Toronto – Pilates, Chiropractic, Functional Medicine
Located on Yonge Street in Toronto, The Movement Boutique serves the areas of Summerhill, Rosedale and Yorkdale with Pilates classes and much more. Our philosophy is centred on a holistic, multimodal approach to health, grounded in the latest therapeutic techniques and clinical research. Our approach: Optimal health cannot be attained through a single therapeutic lens; injuries are often the result of a constellation of lifestyle issues, including dysfunctional movement patterns, trauma, nutritional deficiencies or destructive habits of mind.