Feeling stressed? | Health-and-fitness | taosnews.com – taosnews

Posted: February 13, 2021 at 10:50 pm

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Because of the past months of social distancing, many of us are feeling stressed, isolated and tired. Three practices and habits that can help us navigate stressful and uncertain times are mindful meditation, equanimity and physical exercise.

Human beings are creatures of habit and as most animals, we like routines and predictability. In order to learn, we have to repeat skills over and over. I have heard that it takes repetitions of around 20 times before something becomes a habit. If this is true, incorporating physical and mental self-care into our lives starts right now, where we are.

There is no better time than now to nurture well-being habits.

Mindful meditation is a practice of being aware of the present moment by focusing on an anchor such as the breath, body sensation or a mantra. The practices that have contributed to an improved mental attitude and positive daily path for me are Metta (loving kindness) and Karuna (compassion). These are two of the Brahma Viharas that especially benefit us during times of stress. Oftentimes we combine these together by using four mantras or phrases, whose sentiments are shared with others, all beings and ourselves. The phrases are: "May (I) you be happy; May (I) you be well, healthy, strong; May (I) you be safe, protected and free from harm; and May (I) you be free from suffering."

Learning equanimity is a bit more challenging and as such is the most useful of habits to practice and learn. Equanimity can be nurtured through the practice of mindful meditation. After developing basic concentration skills using meditation and letting go of our thoughts, a person gradually is able to stay present in the moment and not overreact to daily stimuli. Surely, it takes practice and patience to be equanimous and it is a trait that can be nurtured at any age.

Daily physical activity is helpful for overall well-being and emotional health. We live in a special geographic area where there is plenty of space in which to engage in physical exercise, whether it be hiking, walking, jogging, biking, climbing and swimming. From a personal perspective, during these months of pandemic isolation, exercise has been my sanity break. Other than getting in really good physical shape, these sanity breaks provide important times of self-reflection and I simply feel better after exercising outdoors.

The personal benefits of physical and mental practices are numerous.

Mindful meditation, physical exercise and equanimity are well-rounded practices that can alter the course of a person's life towards a more balanced existence, both mentally and physically. Whether one practices these for three months or three years, the benefits are long lasting.

Mental and emotional well-being: Mindful meditation is a daily discipline that brings emotional balance to my life. With over 20 years of meditation experience, the practice really took hold in 2016 when the school from which I recently retired experienced three student suicides in the span of about a year; two were just before the start of school. Meditation came back to mind as a way to deal with grief and it seemed my students might need this calming practice as well. For a number of years after this experience, mindful meditation became a cornerstone of my teaching practice. Students of many ages and backgrounds have shared mindful meditation together and have expressed the benefits they felt from a moment of calm body and peaceful mind.

The benefits of mindful meditation extend past an individual moment of relaxation.

Once a person starts meditating, they generally realize the benefits extend far beyond a relaxing activity. It becomes a state of being and a lifestyle choice. Whether it is to get through a difficult illness, grieving the loss of a loved one or simply to carve out a daily moment of non-doing, everyone can benefit from meditation. The benefits are plentiful and scientifically proven. A few of these include the ability to stay calm during emotional experiences, to be less reactive to behaviors, to listen more carefully to conversations and to have compassion and empathy for self and others.

Mindful meditation for youth is something I believe would have a positive impact on our world. By teaching families with young children the benefits of meditation and present moment awareness I believe the tools/skills learned and incorporated into their daily life would have a long-lasting impact.

The reasons I teach young people and their families meditation are:

To teach students about present-moment mindfulness-awareness;

to teach them that they aren't judged by their thoughts, sensations, and feelings;

to show by example that mindfulness is a way to feel good about yourself, just as we are;

to model being happy, grateful, loved, and peaceful;

to explain what it feels like to be confident yet relaxed.

The Dalai Lama once said, "If every 8-year-old in the world is taught meditation, we will eliminate violence from the world within one generation." This quote reminded me that teaching mindful meditation and compassionate awareness to youth are ways to encourage a kinder future.

How old is "old enough" to teach children mindfulness, meditation, contemplation of self in the moment? Surely, the very young can sit and color a mandala, walk a labyrinth and and do "finger breathing." Eventually, each child could learn to focus on breath, bodily sensations, internal feelings and as a result, benefit from a practice that would last a lifetime.

Creative director and teacher, Anne-Marie Emanuelli grew up in Taos and brings over two decades of meditation experience to welcome a mindful future. Mindful Frontiers is her educational center in Taos, offering mindful meditation guidance and instruction to families with children; also parents, adults and educators seeking self-care options during pandemic restrictions and new-world paradigm. Emanuelli's mindfulness credentials include Mindful Schools certificates and a 200-hour meditation leadership program at Sage Institute for Creativity and Consciousness. For more, visit mindfulfrontiers.net, email mindfulfrontiers@gmail.com or follow @mindfulfrontiers.

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Feeling stressed? | Health-and-fitness | taosnews.com - taosnews

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February 13th, 2021 at 10:50 pm

Posted in Mental Attitude