Implementing these mindfulness ways each day can bring about health for you and all that surrounds you.
As Earth Day 2019 arrives, I have been finding myself reflecting on the gratitude I have for this planet that we all share. From visiting the beach a few weeks ago, to walking in the beautiful open space near my house, the wonder of the earth and all it provides and shares with us daily is nothing less than AMAZING!
This year's theme for Earth Day (Today, Monday, April 22nd) is "Protect Our Species." So many wonderful species that support us like bees and insects, others that roam freely like the elephant and the lion, to the bear and the mountain lion. Each contributes to the earth and make a life for themselves and their families, just as we do each day. The rhythm and heart beat of the earth is in itself mindful and aware of all that connects and why it is important for balance and peace.
Similarly, our lives need the element of mindfulness, which can bring us to this rhythm, that the earth knows so well. This rhythm can cultivate balance and peace in our daily life. As we practice self-compassion within our daily mindfulness practices, there are three key elements that one can do each day to improve health. Mindfulness is a daily practice that takes time, patience and self-compassion. The little moments of mindfulness are important to celebrate and recognize.
As you think about your mindfulness journey, consider these 3 simple ways to incorporate mindfulness in your daily life (they are free and take just a few moments each day). They not only provide health benefits such as lowing blood pressure, inflammation in the body, ease the symptoms of anxiety and depression, as found by research in this area, but they also promote movement and exploration of your surroundings each day. Ultimately, they contribute to your health and that of the planet earth.
Way #1 - Take Time to be in Nature and Breath (Mindfully)
This can take so many forms and can be very personal. Think about your days and find those moments when you are outside. It may be you are in a beautiful wooded area, you may be in the city or your very own neighborhood. Perhaps you walk each morning with the dogs or your partner, or you get out and run errands throughout your day.
The next time you are out in the nature that surrounds you, stop for 2-3 minutes and take time to Look, listen, Feel and Breathe.
A simple example of this for me was just this past weekend. The boys and I went over to the park to play together. As one of my sons was setting up, I stopped to look up at the sky (seeing a red tail hawk flying and the clouds moving along), I listened (hearing the birds chirping and the wind blowing through the trees), I felt (the wind on my face and in my hair, and I felt joy), and finally I took a full breath in and out. This whole experience was about 1-2 minutes. Enough time to be ready for some soccer with my boys.
How it affects our Health...Many studies and personal stories of health have pointed to being out in nature is essential to humans. It helps regulate our circadian rhythm, brings fresh air in our lungs and lowers levels of stress and depression.
How it affects the Health of the Earth...The gratitude for this place we call home, gives us awareness to that which is around us. Being in nature provides an opportunity to love and respect all that supports us on a daily basis. Knowing the earth needs us in order for it to continue to share its beauty, gives us strength and ideas to help in creative and wonderful ways.
Way #2 - Enjoy your meals (Mindfully)
Each day we, as humans, take from the earth and place different foods into our body. This fuels us and gives us pleasure. The act of eating and enjoying our meals can sometimes be rushed depending upon what is happening. Enjoying your meals not only provides your body time and a different way to assimilate the food, but it also increases the pleasure of the tastes. It also helps us to recognize what our bodies are craving and what really provides us the energy we need in our daily life. The next time you sit down to a meal, no matter if it is breakfast, a mid-day snack or an evening dessert, vow to take the time to enjoy your meal mindfully. Starting with just one meal a day is a great place to begin.
The next time you enjoy a meal, tune in and again take time (2-3 minutes) to Look, Listen, Feel and Breathe.
As an example, what are the colors of the food you are enjoying? How does it sound when you chew it? What tastes washes over your tongue? How do you feel as you enjoy this food? Breathe throughout, at the beginning of the meal, two or three times and between bites as you continue to eat. This will slow you down and bring about opportunity to notice other things about your meal.
How it affects our Health...The way our bodies use foods as fuel varies as our emotions and thoughts move in and out during the time of eating. One great article by mindful.org, explains that eating and only eating (rather than multitasking) brings about opportunity for us to relate to our bodies and its signals. This includes signals of hunger, being full and understanding what fuels us and makes us feel our own health.
How it affects the Health of the Earth...The disconnect from our foods and where it comes from continues to grow in our busy lives. However, when we connect with mindful eating, we begin to connect with the earth, the soil that cultivated this meal, the people it took to get the food to our table and our families (or ourselves) as we prepared the meal to enjoy. The gratitude for all that supports us grows and contributes to the health of this earth.
Way #3 - Wake Up with Gratitude (Mindfully)
As the morning breaks and the sun comes through the window, what are the first thoughts you begin to think. For me, there was a time it began as I was already behind in my day. I needed to do this and get that done before I even said good morning to the boys. Man what anxiety this caused. Since these times, I have realized that gratitude in the morning sets us up for a day filled with adventure and the ability to accomplish great things. So with this, in the morning as you wake up, taking 2-3 minutes to feel your body and begin to list a few things you are grateful for. I usually start with, "I am grateful to be awake and breathing this morning" and then it usually just flows from there.
So the next time you wake, take some time to stop for 2-3 minutes and take time to Look, Listen, Feel and Breathe
As an example, What are you grateful for this morning? How does this look, feel or sound to you this morning? Take a big deep breath to release the slumber and breathe in embracing the new day.
How it affects our Health...Allowing our parasympathetic and sympathetic system to balance itself in the morning relates to the waking up process in our bodies. If we wake with anxiety and worry, this flows through and leaks into our day. If we can make time to relax, be mindful and allow for our body to awaken slowly it creates a greater balance and rhythm in the body.
How it affects the Health of the Earth...The earth needs us at our best each day. In order to contribute to the health of the earth, we ourselves need balance. The earth wants us to be happy and healthy in our own journey and it thrives we are balanced and recognize gratitude all around.
In our shared 24 hour period of time each day, we can choose to take 9 to 10 minutes for this practice of mindfulness each day with these 3 Simple Ways listed above. In being mindful, we are both serving ourselves and honoring our own journey, while making the earth a better place for all. It starts with what is inside us and illuminates our space around us. It is contagious and spreads like wildfire as we each become mindful and aware in our daily lives. Take a few minutes today to try one, two or three of these ways for yourself.
Suggested Action Step: Comment below this post today explaining: "How you completed one of the ways above, in this moment? How did it made you feel? Did you feel more connected to the Earth on this beautiful Earth Day?"
I wish all the health and happiness on your awareness journey.
Remember, I am here for any questions or thoughts - share them below with me.