The Way I See It: Taking a mindful approach to life

Michele Blais learns from a number of teachers, including family members, on practising mindfulness and being in the moment

When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”

Many times I have found this to be true either for myself, a friend or my sons. Lately I wonder if the teachers aremagazine articles that are discussing mindfulness and/or  meditation. It seems to me that I am finding this topic touched upon in mainstream magazines everywhere, talk shows, and with friendly conversations.

Is the universe sending me a message? Am I that special?

Two of my teachers in this area are my sons, both of whom meditate, practise yoga and have become very mindful.  So when I describe my hectic days or life to them and a mind that can’t seem to shut down, which affects my sleep, they suggest meditation.  Everyone has at least 10 minutes a day to meditate, slow down, breathe deep and clear their mind.

When they were younger and experienced anxiety I would have them do deep breathing exercises. In for four out for eight, put your hand on your tummy and just feel the air move in and out. This works for their mom, too! This can be very helpful to just get present, slow yourself down. So it fits that the lads would take this even further and develop daily habits of meditation.

On Dr. Oz he discusses this and on his web site I found, “Scientists, psychologists and physicians believe that regular meditation bestows a multitude of health benefits. Several medical studies on Transcendental Meditation (TM) have shown that this technique reduces stress and anxiety and improves brain function. One interesting study suggested that this form of meditation can actually slow the aging process.”

I know this will benefit me, and I will work on my maintenance of good habits.

Being present is so important. My darling has had his knee replaced and is in recovery at home with me as his “nurse.” I am finding that I am a distracted nurse as I work from home, however he is good at saying, “Just sit here and listen, and let’s have a conversation without distractions.”  This feels better for both of us.

Which led me to think about time with our families and the need to be present for them. When our kids are little we do a lot more oohing and awing of their achievements, listening to their stories, less as they become teenagers. Our teens still need those oohs and aws and they need our focused attention. Meal time without TVs, smart phones, newspapers or books. If you are not reading at bedtime with your children it is still a great time for a conversation, no matter what their age. Consider holidays and camping trips where we have more focused time together, and bring them into the house more. It is a reason I enjoy our cottage, campfire chats, meals together, more conversations and quiet time.

Less screen time is better for all of us, young and old alike. I am trying to do this myself and recently while sitting in the airport I practised mindfulness and loved it. Normally I would be on the iPad or iPhone but I decided I would just sit and observe the world around me.

I watched a large group of women from the Maritimes laugh and enjoy each other’s company as they discussed their upcoming adventure to Kelowna. Their excitement was contagious as I overheard their plans. I smelled the rich coffee smells coming from the local java vendor; I enjoyed the view of the airplanes, watched the fog dissipate and just found myself at peace.  Sort of the feeling I get when I hike at one of our local parks. There is a rhythm that I get into, first my mind is busy with lists, and thoughts and slowly I find myself calmer, and quieter.

Again from Dr. Oz (my second favourite doctor next to my own GP) mindfulness meditation focuses on the present moment. This “present-moment focus,” experts believe, improves well-being “by allowing individuals to become aware of their sensations, emotions and thoughts that arise in the mind without judgement or reactivity.” This form of meditation is used not only in meditation sessions, but also in mindfulness-based cognitive therapy and behavior therapy for those suffering from recurrent depression.

I believe quiet is healthy for us. We are bombarded with noise and much of it we have control over; sometimes we just need to turn it off. Be present, pay attention to all of your senses, and enjoy!

Michele Blais is a longtime columnist for The Morning Star, writing on a variety of issues and appearing every other Sunday. She has worked with families and children in the North Okanagan for the past 27 years.