Guest Article: Trevor McDonald - Website
Life is chaotic.
From the moment you wake up and open your eyes, you’re already being greeted with a steady stream of stimuli from seemingly everywhere.
And that’s even before you get out of bed!
It’s all too easy to want to block everything out, put your blinders on, and try to slog through your day-to-day routine.
It’s easy to become so focused on just getting through your day, that when it winds down to an end? You realize you haven’t even focused on one single thing.
You were just go-go-go, trying to survive another day.
That simply won’t do.
That lack of mindfulness can come back to haunt you. You may not even realize it, but being detached and distracted can be very harmful to you.
It’s so important to be in the moment, be focused, and be mindful.
Yet these days, more and more people are detached, distracted, and unaware.
It’s easy to get distracted by countless ads, blog posts about how to avoid body shaming, and everything in between.
The truth is, mindfulness – within your daily routine as well as in your Yoga practice – is an essential element to both your physical and mental wellness.
What Is Mindful Focus & Why Does It Matter?
It’s so easy to get caught up in the big picture that you overlook the smaller details in life.
When you feel like your attention is pulled in a thousand different directions, feeling overstimulated and overwhelmed can seem normal.
The thing is, though, that it’s not normal to feel like you’re constantly on an emotional or mental ledge. Over time, chronic stress can actually be extremely harmful to your health.
Mindfulness can help redirect your thoughts, allowing you a chance to relax and breathe.
Practicing mindful focus has been shown to have several important health benefits. People who practice mindfulness tend to be happier overall and have better health.
They're less likely to get sick too since mindfulness has been shown to help boost immunity.
Mindfulness is also a great way to help relieve anxiety and stress.
If you feel like you’re so overwhelmed with tension and stress that your mind doesn’t want to shut off at night, you may benefit from mindfulness. It has been shown to help those suffering from insomnia, too.
Finally, people who struggle with chronic pain have reported finding lasting relief from their aches through meditation.
As you can see, mindful focus isn’t just something that gets passed around by yogis; even researchers and medical professionals can agree that it’s got some pretty incredible health benefits!
Practicing Yoga to Become a Healthier You
If it feels like your mind is racing and you can’t seem to shut it off, you’re not alone. If you’re struggling to calm your mind, then you may find that practicing mindful focus through yoga can be incredibly helpful.
It’s important to remember that yoga isn’t something that’s reserved exclusively for the trained and enlightened. It’s a practice that’s inviting to people of all age groups, genders, and backgrounds.
Before you can understand the benefits of yoga, though, you first need to understand what the principles of yoga are.
Yoga focuses on a combination of special techniques. More commonly, they include learning specific poses, mindful focus, and breathing.
Together, these make up a portion of yoga.
By taking the time to practice and grow with yoga, you can start to notice a huge difference in your overall well-being.
Because Yoga poses are a type of gentle exercise, it can have incredible effects on your physical health. Yoga can help relieve chronic lower back pain, for example.
It can also help with numerous neurological disorders that can cause severe pain and discomfort. Researchers have found that it can help with multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, and fibromyalgia.
They can also help lower your blood pressure, allowing you to live a much healthier life.
Yoga has been shown to help address a huge spectrum of both physical and mental health issues, as well. It can help treat depression, reduce stress, help with addiction, and reduce insomnia.
Regular practice of yoga poses can also help boost your immune system, reducing your risk of catching an illness.
The bottom line?
Just the mere practice of yoga can greatly, significantly improve your quality of life.
Applying Mindful Focus to Your Daily Life
Applying the principles of yoga to your daily life doesn’t have to be something difficult or complex.
You don’t need to worry about trying to carve hours of your week to focus on, well, focusing.
In fact, even taking the time to practice a tiny bit of yoga can be quite beneficial to your health and welfare.
Even if you don’t have an hour to commit to yoga, you can still find a few small ways to sneak it in.
Finding even 10 or 20 minutes to practice mindfulness can still be a positive influence in your life.
Even better? You can do it right here, right now, in the clothes you’re wearing – no special equipment or yoga mats needed!
To dip your toes into a yoga practice, you need to start small. Take 10 minutes to focus on your breathing. See if you can relax your mind and try to meditate.
If you have a few more minutes, then the gentle hatha yoga postures can help you work out the stress and aches of your body and mind.
Begin with Hatha, after you have developed control and ease of the postures, then you might attempt the styles of yoga that have grown from Hatha such as vinyasa or Yin yoga.
Yoga is so inclusive and gentle that it can be beneficial to you, no matter your age or current ability level. There really is no excuse not to practice it.
That’s the wonderful thing about yoga. There really is something for everyone.
The more you practice yoga and mindfulness, the better you will start to feel.
If you’re looking to improve your focus, reduce your stress, enhance your outlook on life, and even shed a few unwanted pounds, yoga is for you.
What are you waiting for? Your inner peace awaits you.
You just have to be ready and willing to practice mindful focus.
Are you ready?
Self-love is at the heart of our overall health. When we are blasted on a daily basis with messages that we aren’t good enough, whether from strangers or the media, it can create permanent damage. Self-love is tied to self-worth, confidence, happiness, achieving goals, and our overall health. Fortunately, there are ways to combat the dangerous self-hate that we cultivate on a daily basis. It starts with making a conscious decision to change. Speak kindly to yourself, love yourself, and support yourself like you would a dear friend. Ask yourself how you would respond if someone you love was facing the issues in front of you. You’d probably react very differently than how you treat yourself. Here are a few ways to build self-love into your daily routine:
1. Start a guided focus practice. If you’ve never practiced before, this can sound intimidating. However, daily mindful focus doesn’t require hours in lotus position. A practice can be three to five minutes. It’s a chance to breathe, accept thoughts as they come before dismissing them, and re-setting your day or night. Many people prefer to practice for a few minutes in the morning when it’s usually quieter and they can take some time for themselves. Choose a space and position that’s comfortable, but not so comfortable that you’ll fall asleep. There are tools you can use, from mala beads to listening to guided meditation. Speak with your Yoga teacher for specific techniques to develop this practice.
2. Actively change how you talk to yourself. When you’re frustrated, take a look at your inner voice. How are you speaking to yourself? Everyone has an inner voice, and many are quite active. However, these voices are uncensored and we can take frustrations out on ourselves. Change how you talk to yourself—it will take time and practice. There are additional tools to help with this.
3. See a mental health expert. Mental health is just as important as every other type of health, but it's often put on the back burner. However, keep in mind that seeing just one mental health expert rarely gives you the chance of finding the best fit. Not only are there millions of experts, but there is also a multitude of types of therapy. "Shop" around and see what resonates with you. This can be frustrating, especially if you're navigating the health insurance field to find this help, but tenacity is worth it. You wouldn’t go an entire lifetime without seeing a GP, would you?
4. Learn to say no. Women especially can find themselves saying yes to everything, including things that aren’t necessary. Practice saying no. It’s one of the greatest defenses a person has. It’s rare that the things we say yes to are a requirement. This doesn’t mean saying no to everything is the ticket to self-love, but it’s a start. You can probably tick off a number of requests and “standing orders” that you don’t like and shouldn’t have to stick with. As you “spring clean” your life, you’ll uncover hidden happiness.
5. Put your health first. Whether this means a moderate amount of weekly exercise or attending a church service if that’s part of your spiritual health practice, health is a priority. If you’re not healthy, you’re not at your best and every aspect of your life will suffer. However, the definition of health can be subjective. Everyone’s exercise regimen might be different, but should be guided by experts including physicians. Spiritual health varies greatly, but it’s part of everyone’s makeup. Maybe your spiritual health is a weekly walk in the woods. Understand what your health needs are and put them first.
One of the best things we can do for self-love is to get rid of the things in our life that are actively destroying it. For many people, it’s technology addiction. Everyone has vices. Knowing what they are and replacing them with healthy habits is one of the best things you can do for yourself. From food addiction to avoiding healthy habits (like seeing your dentist on a regular basis), we are constantly sabotaging ourselves. It’s not entirely our fault, because addiction and outside influences are fierce. However, what we do about it daily is within our control.