Features, What The Health

Minding Your Mindfulness!

Image of Elizabeth Serieux PhD, MPH
By Elizabeth Serieux PhD, MPH

THIS week, we’re supposed to be talking about stress. I know that’s a big issue for all of us right now and with no end in near sight. So, what’s a Lucian (or anyone else) to do? As it turns out, there actually is quite a bit that can be done and although many of them seem like pretty small things, remember that small things add up, or in the immortal words of the Tao of Lao Tsu, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”

So, I was busy this week thinking of “one steps” we could take to reduce our stress levels and then as luck/serendipity/providence (whatever you prefer to call it) would have it, I came across a poem by Rachel Dehler that carried the perfect message. So, full disclosure – the poem in its original form could certainly not be published in the paper, so I took the liberty of making a few adjustments and here it is below. I hope you find it as helpful as I do! Two more points, though, before I leave you to your poetry reading: (1) What exactly is mindfulness and (2) Why is it beneficial?

According to Psychology Today, mindfulness is “a state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you carefully observe your thoughts and feelings without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to your current experience, rather than dwelling on the past or anticipating the future.”

Mindfulness is beneficial for so many reasons, chief among which are that it encourages you to spend more time being conscious of and in your current experience. If you believe, as I do, that your future experiences are shaped by the choices you make in the present, then mindfulness not only helps you to make the most of the present, but also helps you deliberately shape your future experiences.

Also, mindfulness and mindfulness meditation have been shown to reduce levels of stress, anxiety, depression and emotional reactivity as well as enhance focus, working memory and self-insight! Certainly, well worth exploration, don’t you think? So now, without further ado, your poem…

Breathe in, breathe out, now put down your phone.
I’m bringing you all to the mindfulness zone.
Not many have been here, it’s a hard path to trot.
If you think it’s impossible, I promise—it’s not.

Life is in front of you, not on a screen.
Simmer down, garcon, you can still share your memes.

There’s beauty in discipline, freedom in change.
There’s a world all around you, it’s time to engage.

It’s a balance of priorities, not black or white.
It’s reading an article beforeclicking “Like.”

You love fitness, I get it, you go to the gym.
But we don’t need a selfie each time you check in.

Look up at the moon, let the stars fill your bones.
We don’t need a Snapchat, we see it too, bro.

It’s eating your dinner without checking your mail.
And we don’t need a picture. #epicfail

It’s resisting temptation, it’s sitting with pain.
I promise you, friends, there is so much to gain.

It’s putting your phone down when you’re in the car.
It’s watching your children when they don’t know you are.

It’s folding your laundry with intention and breath.
It’s giving a damn when you have zero left.

It’s being conscious and present, it’s living out loud.
It’s making eye contact when you totally hate crowds.

Get out of the future, let go of the past.
Just be here now, that’s your one simple task.

It’s being there for your sister when she needs your light.
It’s saying no to the alcohol—let’s be honest, you fight.

It’s choosing fruits and veggies over fast-food and rum.
It’s using your knowledge and not playing dumb.

It’s becoming an observer when fear pops in your head.
It’s choosing to breathe and stay present instead.

The proof’s in the practice, connection’s the gift.
Stay consistent and kind, and your whole world will shift.

Looking up from your deathbed, I doubt that you’ll say,
“I wish I had more time to spend on Facebook today.”

May this poem be of benefit, and if you ever get stuck;
Come back, re-read, and always cherish the present, good luck!”

As always, thank you for reading and remember if you have questions or comments, you can reach me at Livesmart758@gmail.com. Have a great week!!

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