Monday, December 10, 2012

Living in the Moment, Revisited

If I had to pick a self-improvement theme for 2012, "living mindfully" is the ideal I've worked to embrace. In fact, that was how I started out the year on this blog. Whether I've been particularly successful is another matter entirely, but I can say that I've put a lot of thought and effort into it, especially in recent months. Immediately after coming back from Ohio -- perhaps out of coincidence, perhaps out of a greater need to ground myself after spending time away from home -- I found a little group of folks who like to talk about and practice that concept of living in the moment. It's an interesting mix of people, ranging from folks who are more on the naturalist, atheist side of the spectrum like me to more celestial and modern religious/spiritual perspectives. Ultimately, though, we're able to come together on the same wavelength to explore meditation and living in the moment.

With that thought in mind, I came across an interesting article today that delves into the psychology of awareness and looking inward, and how that can empower and heal: The Brain's Ability to Look Within: A Secret to Well-Being. You know me -- I love exploring the science behind everything I do (and think), and this explanation about the two different paths the brain uses for attention is a good example of what I mean when I say I strive to live intentionally.
Learning to tune into our bodies could have other beneficial consequences as well. We are so used to directing our attention outward that we often don’t even really taste food because we are too busy watching TV or distracting ourselves in other ways. However, research suggests that our greatest moments of happiness are times we spend fully involved and engaged in a situation: be it a physical activity, a sensory experience, or intimacy with another person. If we are distracted, we are depriving ourselves of some of the greatest sources of happiness.

Next time you find your thoughts racing and emotions blaring out of control, instead of trying to talk yourself out of the situation or turning to a glass of wine, have a seat, take some deep breaths and tune into your body, or go to a gentle and awareness-based yoga or meditation class. Farb’s research suggests that we have an inbuilt ability to calm ourselves down. We just need to take a deep breath.

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