Mindfulness can be described as being in tune with your internal world and listening to your body and its needs.
- Being fully present in the moment
- Bringing awareness to what you are experiencing via your senses and/or thoughts and emotions (i.e. your state of mind)
- An intentional act and non-judgemental
- Part of all of us, but like all things, practise makes perfect and it is more readily available to us if done daily.
Mindfulness is a broad term and can be applied to all eight dimensions of wellness – physical, spiritual, mental-emotional, social, financial, environmental, intellectual, and occupational. Each dimension contributes to our sense of wellbeing or quality of life, and each affects, influences and overlaps with the other dimensions. For optimal health you need balance in all eight dimensions.
Mindfulness applied to physical wellness (incl. proper nutrition and exercise) is generally the easiest place to start for most of us, but remember that it influences and affects the other dimensions as well. At Ariani Health Solutions we focus on a mindful and holistic approach to health and long-term weight loss.
Top 5 practical tips for mindful living
- Gratitude for your magnificent being
Focus on how grateful you are for your wonderful body. This is self-love, not selfishness. It is a miracle to be alive, happy and healthy. Gratitude lifts our spirits and puts us in a high-vibration frequency.
Thank your body for keeping you alive and allowing you to move. Our bodies were created to move and regular exercise improves the functioning of all your bodily systems and cells. Thank your body for digesting and absorbing your food effortlessly, without you even noticing it. Bless and thank your food for its healing and nourishing powers.
2. The power of now
Be in the moment while exercising and eating. Move in a slow and controlled manner, no matter what exercise you are doing. It could be anything that makes your body move and brings you joy, be it yoga, dancing, boxing, swimming or hiking. Enjoy the experience and the moment. It shouldn’t feel like a punishment.
Eat slowly and involve all your senses by really tasting and smelling your food. You can even eat with your hands and listen to the different sounds the foods are making when you eat them. Remember that food is the fuel for life!
3. Listen to your body
If you experience pain while exercising, then stop. Adjust posture, form and technique; then continue. Don’t push your body into a painful range.
Your body knows when you’ve had enough, but it takes time for your brain to register that you are satisfied. Therefore, eat slowly. Start noticing your feelings and emotions when you want to eat, when you are busy eating and after you eat. This will give you an indication of whether you eat to feel better (aka emotional eating) or perhaps to relieve stress (stress eating).
Of course, you also need an idea of what healthy foods are. It is important to know that your body will not crave unhealthy foods. If you do experience cravings, they are driven by your mind and emotions. Drink water instead.
4. Become silent: breathe and relax
Make time for yourself to recover, refresh, revitalise and replenish. This is known as self-love and it is crucial for improving your concentration, memory and productivity, and enabling you to give more time and energy to others. Start exploring what makes you feel re-energised and relaxed.
Take deep breaths while exercising and eating. Follow the breaths. Incorporate balance and flexibility stretches into your workout routines. Yoga incorporates strength, balance and flexibility (3 of the 4 basic exercise categories, the 4th being aerobic exercise, aka ‘cardio’). Yoga is also great as a mindfulness practice, to relax and revitalise the body, soul and mind after a hectic day.
Take a few deep breaths (5 to 10) before each meal. Your body can only digest and absorb food properly in a rested state (when the relaxation / parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for rest, digestion and recovery is active). So relax, breathe and taste your food. Eating quickly and in a rushed state is one of the major causes of indigestion, bloating, and stomach aches and pains.
5. Mix it up
Keep things interesting by exploring different workouts and fun exercises. Remember that exercise is not a punishment and that your body craves movement! Make sure to incorporate all four categories of exercise, to ensure optimal fitness.
Start exploring different foods and get creative in the kitchen by adding herbs and spices to your cooking and trying new tastes. Remember that food is not bad and your body needs it for fuel. Food is life! Start looking at your relationship with food. Most of our Weight Control Clinic patients have limiting beliefs around food and weight that stand in their way to optimal health and happiness.
Written by Anri van Rooyen (Holistic Counsellor and Lifestyle/Mindfulness Coach), partner with Dr Arien van der Merwe in Ariani Health Solutions and the Weight Control Clinic.