by Allison Aboud Holzer

Perhaps my in-laws think I practice yoga because I love wearing yoga pants. It’s an honest mistake. I admit, I tried

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yoga for about one year in 2001; then I stopped – quite frankly because as much as I loved the pants, I didn’t like the practice. I also took a one-hour meditation class once and found it to be both mentally and physically excruciating. I’ve tried progressive muscle relaxation CDs, and I fall asleep within minutes. I’m close to closing the door on mindfulness, but…

Mindfulness is the one area of happiness and well-being research that shows consistent benefits in psychological functioning, stress coping, and well-being (Ott, 2006). Different types of mindfulness improve your mood, decrease obsessive thinking (Speca, 2000; Grossman, 2004; Shapiro, 2007), enhance your immune system (Davidson, 2003), and improve your general sense of well-being (Harinath, 2004). For those readers who regularly sweat to Bikram yoga or attend weekly transcendental meditation meetings, this Bliss Tip is a “no, Duh!” But what do you do if you are someone who just can’t get into those things?

You can begin flexing your mindfulness muscle in simple ways that don’t involve a trip to a gym. To name a Two:

1. Try the One-to-Ten at least twice a day. Think of an activity you do at least twice a day (like brushing your teeth or drinking a glass of water) to be your mindfulness reminder. At those times, focus your gaze on something still and count to ten, inhaling and exhaling each number.

2. Start and End Your Day with a Classical music song. A classical music song can take you into a state of relaxation in a matter of minutes. Commit to starting and ending your day with just one song and practice focusing on your breathing while listening.

You don’t have to be a Yogi to benefit from the sanctuary of mindfulness in the midst of a hectic day. Create a doable habit that carves out a small amount of time to be present every day. Once you begin flexing your mindfulness muscle, you may find the people around you noticing a change. Congratulations! It’s not the pants.

· Davidson, R.J., Kabat-Zinn, J., Schumacher, J., Rosenkranz, M. et all (2003). Alterations in Brain and Immune Function Produced by Mindfulness Meditation. Psychosomatic Medicine, 65, 564-570.

· Grossman, P., Niemann, L., Schmidt, S., Walach, S. (2004). Mindfulness-based stress reduction and health benefits: A meta-analysis. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 57 (1), 35-43.

· Harinath, K., Malhotra, A.S., Pal, K., Prasad, R., Kumar, R. et al (2004). The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 10(2), 261-268.

· Ott, M.J. (2006). Mindfulness Meditation for Oncology Patients: A Discussion and Critical Review. Integrative Cancer Therapies, 5 (2), 98-108.

· Shapiro, J.S., Swanick, S.L., Roesch, S.C., et al (2007). A randomized controlled trial of mindfulness meditation versus relaxation training: effects on distress, positive states of mind, rumination, and distraction. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 33(1), 11-21.

· Speca, M., Carlson, L.E. Goodey, E., Angen, M (2000). A Randomized, Wait-List Controlled Clinical Trial: The Effect of a Mindfulness Meditation-Based Stress Reduction Program on Mood and Symptoms of Stress in Cancer Outpatients. Psychosomatic Medicine, 6, 613-622.

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