Balance

When we talk about wellness, or health, or even happiness, we often use the word 'balance'.  Work life balance, wellness balance, family life balance, balanced diet, emotionally balanced.  So let's talk about what it means and about some ways of working towards there.

Balance Tree

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines balance as follows:

  • the ability to move or to remain in a position without losing control or falling.
  • a state in which different things occur in equal or proper amounts or have an equal or proper amount of importance.

Wellness is finding and pursuing our own personal balance.  Like this tree not every branch is the same, but they are all balanced.  Each of our 'trees' are different, for one person their social connections are a huge part of their balance, for another it may be career or physical activity.

So how do we strongly root ourselves and figure out what we need?  There are many different tools, a lot have been listed on this website.  But a good place to start is by practicing mindfulness.

 

What is Mind-FUL-ness ?

The practice of being fully present and accepting your thoughts, feelings and physical sensations from moment to moment. Oh and you are doing this on purpose, without judgment or interpretation.

What is Mind-LESS-ness ?

Moving moment to moment on “auto-pilot”, usually with your mind on the past or the future and likely missing what’s happening at that very moment. With that you could be missing beautiful moments in life and opportunities.

Let's talk about that! ?

We think what’s important here is that you understand that you CAN NOT just shut off the mind. That’s impossible; you’re doomed for failure if that’s what you are after! Auto-pilot is not our fault as humans. Did you know the human body is designed for efficiency in all aspects? It is why we can develop a new skill and one day find that we are applying the skill with no thought at all.It becomes “second nature” right? Remember there was a time that we all couldn’t walk too. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I go to sip my coffee and it’s finished and I don’t even recall taking one sip! This is how our routines often play out in our daily lives. Good ol’ auto-pilot! Someone get me another coffee!
Full mind

“I wish I could just shut this brain off!”

“My mind just keeps wandering, I can't do this!”

“Every time I try to do something mindful, I find myself thinking again!”

“I’ve always been like this”.  Have you really though?

“Mindfulness just won’t work for me”.  Are you giving it a fair chance?

The mind wanders.  It’s what it’s designed to do, we CANNOT change that.  You’ll need to accept this fact.  What we CAN do, in mindful practice, is observe.  Just observe our thoughts, acknowledge each thought (without judgment or interpretation), accept this is what our mind does, release each thought and watch as it makes its departure from our mind.  This sequence is a mindful activity in itself!

How about emotions?  Yes, with mindful practice you will be able to observe the emotions, name them, accept them, release them and allow them to drift away.

Even in walking you can practice mindfulness.  How often have you suddenly arrived at your destination and wondered how you even got there or what happened in the past seconds, minutes, hours?  In mindful walking practice you can experience the various sensations, acknowledge them, accept them, release and allow these sensations to be or maybe adjust so they change (turn so the wind isn’t directly in your face, move to walking on the grass, shift weight to left leg to avoid the pain in the right hip).

 

Welcome to MINDFULNESS.  It is a way of life.

 

The Benefits of Mindfulness

An incredible thing starts to happen when you are more mindful in your daily life.  You become aware.  When you become aware, you are able to make choices.  Those choices could lead to happiness, freedom from negative thought patterns, enriched living…..who knows what else?!

But hey, don’t take my word for it, there’s actually tons of documented research and scientific evidence highlighting the physical, psychological and social benefits. (Google it!) This is really a thing and our friends to the east are way ahead of us enjoying the many benefits that it brings. We’d be silly to ignore that!

 

Bodies: Mindfulness boosts our immune system’s ability to fight off illness.

Minds: Mindfulness increases positive emotions while reducing negative emotions and stress.  One study even suggests it may be as good as antidepressants in fighting depression and preventing relapse.

Brains: Mindful practice changes our brains! It increases the density of gray matter in regions linked to learning, memory, emotion regulation and empathy.

Focus: Mindfulness helps us tune out distractions and improves memory and attention skills.

Compassion and Altruism: Mindfulness makes us more likely to help someone in need and increases activity in the neural networks involved in understanding the suffering of others and regulating emotions.  Boosts self-compassion as well.

Relationships: Mindfulness makes couples more satisfied with their relationship, makes each partner feel more optimistic and relaxed, and makes them feel more accepting of and closer to one another.

Parents / Parents-to-be: Mindfulness reduces pregnancy-related anxiety, stress and depression in expectant parents.  Parents who practice mindfulness report being happier with their parenting skills and their relationship with their kids, and their kids were found to have better social skills.

Schools: Teaching mindfulness in the classroom reduces behavior problems and aggression among students, and improves their happiness levels and ability to pay attention.  Teachers trained in mindfulness also show lower blood pressure, less negative emotion and symptoms of depression and greater compassion and empathy.

Caring Professionals: Mindfulness helps professionals in the caregiving roles cope with stress, connect with their patients/clients and improve their general quality of life.  It also helps mental health professionals by reducing negative emotions and anxiety and increasing their positive emotions and feelings of self-compassion.

Prisons: Mindfulness reduces anger, hostility and mood disturbances among prisoners by increasing their awareness of their thoughts and emotions, helping with their rehabilitation and reintegration.

Trauma Survivors: Mindfulness can reduce the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in the aftermath of traumatic experiences.

Obesity: Practicing “mindful eating” encourages healthier eating habits, helps people lose weight and helps them savour the food they do eat.

 

Learn more about mindfulness techniques on page 2.

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