Dr. Brooke Grant Jeffy (Dermatologist)
The Power of Being Present
Not a day goes by that I am not reminded of the power of mindfulness. For me, I incorporate yoga with my daily dose of mindfulness. But this morning I was considering skipping yoga because of all the things on my plate for the day. I started lashing out at my husband and son as my body responded to the anxiety my brain was creating because I was worried that I would not get everything done. I immediately felt regret at my actions and realized I was not in the present. I dragged myself to yoga. And it worked. The past and the future faded away, and I was able to work efficiently in the present.
It is easy for our brains to spiral out of control. Focusing on the regrets of the past and the fear of the future. We are hardwired to have these thoughts, and they were useful to us as a species in the past. Poor choices could lead to disaster, and not knowing what the future held kept us prepared and ready for what the world would throw at us. But these thoughts do not serve us now. Our brain constantly tries to worry about things that may happen to protect us, but this really just contributes to anxiety. We also dwell in the past, trying to figure out what we should have said or done, and how the outcome would have been different. We spend very little time in the present where we should be. Focusing on the now is the key to happiness.
"Mindfulness is the tool we all need to survive what life, and our brain's interpretation of life throws our way."
Today was just a small example of the power of mindfulness. I am convinced mindfulness has helped me survive some of life's biggest transitions. Most recently, it helped me cope with the diagnosis and, ultimately, the loss of my mom to cancer over a 6-month period. I failed often, but mindfulness allowed me to attempt to stay in the present with her during her illness, instead of curled up in the fetal position bawling like I wanted, fearing and sad about my future life without her. Mindfulness eventually got me out of the house after she was gone.
I am not sure my mom knew the word mindfulness, but she definitely lived in the moment and made it look easy. It has always been hard for me, and a skill I have to work on daily. I would not wish what she, we, or I went through on any other human. Yet all of us will be touched by difficult transitions, tragedy, and loss in some way. Mindfulness is the tool we all need to survive what life, and our brain's interpretation of life throws our way.
Mindfulness practice also allows us to make better lifestyle choices, resulting in healthier bodies. Letting our brains focus on the past and future causes chronic stress that results in poor sleep, poor relationships (with people and food), and alcohol use, to name just a few. The stress and the choices we make in the face of it contribute to heart disease, autoimmune diseases, chronic pain, and cancer.
Imagine a world where all of us had this tool. Start your journey into a life with mindfulness by checking out the ‘Calm and Waking Up’ apps or www.mindful.org.