Om for all
Even if you don’t think of yourself as the leg-crossing, om-chanting type, mindfulness strategies can still improve your life. It’s simple to work these little activities into your daily life, and the benefits are many and varied: research shows that focus and calming techniques can alleviate pain, bump up test scores and fight depression.
Pause periodically, inhale and think to yourself, “Breathing in, I know that I am breathing in.” As you exhale, think, “Breathing out, I know that I am breathing out.” Bringing yourself into the moment and focusing on your body improves mental clarity and emotional stability.
ONE THING AT A TIME
At work, step away from your desk when you find your focus waning; just like your muscles, your brain needs breaks. Research shows that multitasking is inefficient and stressful, and concentrating on the task at hand can improve working memory capacity. (see “Attention Deficit Reduction.”)
Being available around the clock to anyone with your phone number or email address can undermine your emotional stability. Limit access to media and constant distractions, and you’ll free up moments to tune in to yourself, reducing anxiety and possibly improving immune function.
SLOW YOUR ROLL
If you already jog, run, swim or bike, consider allotting five minutes after your workout for a brief yoga flow. The child’s pose and steady cross-legged stretches open up your hips, lower back and shoulders. Your resulting focused calm wards off hypertension and may protect your cognitive function later into life.
Though simple self-awareness, positive thoughts and conscious breathing will give anyone a boost, mindfulness training and concentration meditations can take your brain to an entirely new level. Electrical activity readings from the brains of tibetan monks—who meditate for many hours per day—reveal unprecedented gamma wave activity, which is believed to be a physical marker for meditative bliss and transcendence.