Today is a Gift
Perhaps you've heard the saying "yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift, that's why we call it the present." But have you ever wondered what it means to be truly present? I certainly have. And I've learned it's about the five senses. Maybe you've heard of the grounding technique called the 5-4-3-2-1 method. It follows the same principle. And can be quite effective in moments when you're feeling anxious. It's all about stopping what you're doing and looking around at your surrounds.
The 54321 method: name the following
5 things you can see
4 things you can touch
3 things you can hear
2 things you can smell
1 thing you can taste
Because think about it, when you're feeling anxious, where's your brain? It's in the past or the future. Not in the present. It's impossible to be curious and anxious at the same time, because being curious requires being in the present. And that kind of focus makes it quite difficult to think about other things.
It's Easy to Forget
It's simple and yet so easy to overlook. Because as we learned in Ferris Bueller's day off "life moves pretty fast. If you don't look around once in a while, you could miss it."
This Fall, I've learned to appreciate each day that is given. And to admire the beautiful spectacles that nature has to offer. Because it won't last forever. It's a transitory season.
Even Nature Gets Stressed
When leaves change their color, it's a sign they're stressed. Less sunlight combined with cooler temperatures puts them into this state. And as a result, they stop producing chlorophyll, which causes their leaves to fade. Yet despite their stress, they produce such an array of colors. It's pretty incredible.
It's funny how when you know something is fading, it makes you appreciate it more. Because who knows if they will be there tomorrow, or if you will. No one has a crystal ball (except God). This life is a beautiful mystery. One that presents the opportunity to explore and express gratitude each day.
Fall into Fall
The crunching of leaves, that crisp autumn air, the apple orchards in bloom, squirrels scurrying about to gather acorns, all point to the beauty of the season. To the importance of seizing the day. And appreciating what's happening now. Being mindful in this way, actually does wonders for our brains. Not only does it reduce stress, but it also heightens our memory and learning capabilities.
What is Mindfulness Anyway?
Perhaps you've heard this term Mindfulness passed around, but have never been interested. I 100% used to be that way. But I've discovered that mindfulness really does make life easier and happier.
At it's core, mindfulness is engaging in the present moment without any judgement. It's becoming aware of your surroundings, and the connection that your mind has to your body and your spirit. And from a health and wellness standpoint, it's quite effective.
A Look at the Science
Don't believe me? There's this section in your brain called the amygdala. Within that exists grey matter that neurologists now know is associated with stress. So when you're stressed, the amount of grey matter in your amygdala increases. The cool part is this is not a permanent thing. In studying people who practice mindfulness daily, researchers have found significantly less grey matter in their amygdala. So practicing mindfulness is almost like giving your brain a massage. Pretty cool, don't you think?
Additional sources on mindfulness and brain studies