An Introduction to Mindfulness

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Breathe (2)

In a society that values efficiency and speed, it can be easy to get overwhelmed. It’s easier now than ever to lose sight of the smaller, simple things in life. The demand to continue producing, moving and progressing can be physically, emotionally and mentally draining – and may prevent us from meeting our fullest potential.Basically, we're just a really stressed-out culture. Yet, every moment in our life is an opportunity to realign and reevaluate. Mindfulness, rooted in the practices of Zen Buddhism, can help with developing a new perspective on life. Mindfulness helps bring our awareness to the subtler aspects of daily life: current feelings, thoughts and environment, however fleeting. This underappreciated, but extremely beneficial, practice encompasses a variety of topics, ranging from checking into our bodies, to our emotions, to our current mindsets. Are you feeling stressed-out, on edge or exhausted? If so, mindfulness could be a helpful addition to your daily routine. When mindful, we bring harmony into everyday activities that at first may seem mundane but become meditative as we become more practiced.

Mindfulness can be practiced by anyone and in nearly all situations. In Buddhism, mindfulness is seen as the concrete basis to build ones’ lifestyle from. There is no “right” or “wrong” way to become more mindful, but it involves acknowledging ones’ inner thoughts and sensations without judgement. It requires a level of self-compassion; loving and respecting oneself as he or she exists in the present. While mindfulness is originally associated with spirituality, it has been incorporated in to the American secular mainstream as well. Jon Kabat-Zinn, from the University of Massachusetts Medical School created the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program (MBSR) in 1979; MBSR has led to thousands of studies carried out on the effects of mindfulness. Results have shown mindfulness can help boost immunity, fight depression, and reduce the symptoms of PTSD.

When using cannabis, try to do so mindfully by setting an intention. Why are you turning to cannabis in that moment? Are you feeling pain, anxiety, stress, or having trouble falling asleep? If so, acknowledge these emotions/sensations with non-judgement. While ingesting the cannabis, focus your mind on inhalation and exhalation, noticing any physical and mental changes. Focus in on the various traits of the strain: its taste, effects and the quality of smoke. Most importantly, realize where your limits are. The purpose of this exercise is to recognize what amounts of cannabis you are comfortable with – and what is effective – not to simply be intoxicated.

If this practice sounds like something you might enjoy, here are some other mindfulness- exercises to incorporate into your daily holistic health routine, including methods for waking in the morning, drinking tea, eating and working. Mindfulness is encompassed from this quote from Zen Buddhist monk:

“Smile, breathe and go slowly.”

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