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Bringing Mindfulness to the World

The fundamental message of the mindfulness movement is that the underlying cause of dissatisfaction and distress is in our heads. By failing to pay attention to what actually happens in each moment, we get lost in regrets about the past and fears for the future, which make us unhappy. Learning to focus turns down the volume on circular thought, our “entire society is suffering from attention deficit disorder – big time”.

By practising mindfulness, individual freedom is found within “pure awareness”, undistracted by external corrupting influences. All we need to do is close our eyes and watch our breath. The world is slowly changing, one mindful individual at a time.

Mindful You Mindful World

Training yourself in times of nonstress becomes increasingly important, because you build up those practices for accessing calm quickly. Even years of meditation or yoga practice, however, aren’t always enough to handle the challenges of the modern world. When anxiety takes you by surprise, these strategies will help you catch your breath and calm your mind.

1. Be Ridiculous: To calm yourself quickly, tell your autonomic nervous system that it’s OK to stand down. One cue that works surprisingly well is silliness. If you’re anxious before an important call, have a one-song dance party. Make faces in the mirror. Translate the day’s headlines into pig Latin.

2. Focus on a Game: The Scientific Solution to Building a More Resilient Brain and Life, is redirecting a racing mind by playing games, especially ones that require some concentration. Play Tetris on your phone or a round of 20 Questions with a friend.

3. Slow Your Breath: Rapid, shallow breathing is a common feature of anxiety, but that deliberately slowing the breath down — to six or seven breaths a minute — and inhaling twice the usual volume of air can lower sympathetic nervous system activity by as much as one-third.

4. Listen to Your Environment: One way to tune out the noise in your mind is to tune in to the sounds around you: the chirping birds outside your window, a humming air conditioner, a horn beeping down the street, the sound of a copy machine. “Allow your ears to simply receive whatever sounds arise,”.

5. Take a Play Break: If you can step away from a tense moment long enough to throw a Frisbee or pet your dog, you’re on your way to calming down. Play can trigger positive neurochemicals — serotonin, oxytocin, dopamine, and endorphins — that increase well-being.

6. Drink a Glass of Water: Simply slowing down to have a glass of water can be calming; it also supports stress recovery. Staying well-hydrated may reduce your HPA-axis response to stress.

7. Listen to Music: If you need to get out of your head, put on some tunes you love and listen actively, with your eyes closed. Calming music especially can have a direct effect on the autonomic system. This may be why music is now being used therapeutically in emergency rooms, as well as in pain-management and stress-reduction programs.

8. Sing: Produce your own instant music therapy by belting out a song or two (singing loudly with the radio absolutely counts). Singing can measurably improve immunity, decrease stress, and raise oxytocin levels, which help promote social bonding.

9. Monotask: If you’re feeling anxious about having too much to do, approach each task in a conscious way. “I’m going to answer emails for 10 minutes,” for example, or, “I’m taking 10 minutes to clear off my desk.” Even if you can’t complete them on the first try, it can be calming to get a start on lingering tasks — which is often the hardest part.

10. Alternate-Nostril Breathing: Deep breathing is useful for slowing down the sympathetic nervous system and alternate-nostril breathing can be especially relaxing. First, exhale completely, and then inhale deeply. On your next exhale, place an index finger against your right nostril to close it off. Inhale through the left nostril, and then close the left nostril as you release the right nostril. Exhale completely through the right nostril, and then inhale through that side. At the top of the inhale, close off the right nostril, release the left, and exhale. Repeat for 15 rounds.

11. Pet an Animal: Find the nearest domesticated mammal and give it a friendly scratch behind the ears. Studies show that petting dogs can lower your blood pressure, and having a pet of your own can be a reliable source of unconditional love that keeps stress in check over time.

12. Enjoy Some Greenery: Take a walk in the woods, if possible. Research on “forest bathing,” a practice that originated in Japan, has revealed that spending time among trees and plants can measurably lower cortisol, blood pressure, and pulse rate. Gardening is also a calming activity that gets you outdoors.

13. Express Your Thanks: Numerous studies have found gratitude to be a life changer, bringing feelings of greater well-being and reducing depression. So write a note to a friend, say thank you to three people in an hour, express gratitude for the little things every day, like “Thank you, universe, for that amazing parking spot.” Or, “Thank you, universe. I am still alive. Perhaps my anxiety doesn’t know everything after all.”

MINDFULNESS MULTIPLIER EFFECT™

At the heart of Ivy Child’s mission, we believe that when you provide any individual access to learn and practice mindfulness, it not only enhances their direct well-being, it also ripples out to benefit all of those in their outer world (SELF, FAMILY, COMMUNITY, WORLD).

This is Ivy Child International’s Mindfulness Multiplier Effect ™.

The effect you have in the world, the intangible, energetic impact you have on the whole, begins from within you and how you feel, what kind of emotional energy you carry out into the world and spread around, so to speak. The specific emotions don’t matter, although it very much makes a difference whether the emotions you’re allowing to influence your contribution are positive or negative.

It all begins with you, from within. That’s where your ripples originate, and that’s the only source of ripples that you have influence or control over. You hold a vast power within you, the power to influence your experience intentionally, and all you have to do to embrace this power is decide to.

Mindfulness Practiced by the World

If you look at any culture throughout history, you’ll find that their traditions include some form of meditation or mindfulness practice.

Day 1: Norway – Friluftsliv

 

In Norway, people practice a custom known as Friluftsliv (“Free-looft-sleeve”), which means “free air life”. Friluftsliv refers to spending time outdoors and soaking up the beauty of nature.
When you go outside, feel the sun on your face, the breeze in your hair, hear the birds singing, the insects buzzing, see the beautiful flora and fauna around you, it takes you out of your hectic thoughts and brings you into the present moment.
You breathe deeper, your heartbeat slows down, and your mood lifts as you simply enjoy each breath, breathing in the wondrous world we live in.
From the remote Arctic to urban Oslo, friluftsliv means a commitment to celebrating time outdoors, no matter the weather forecast. Friluftsliv can also mean long strolls with friends, picnics, a leisurely afternoon bike ride, or walking the dog on a chilly morning.
The benefit goes beyond good mood though. Spending time in the outdoors can also help heal the kind of grief and trauma emerging as the virus races through communities worldwide.

Day 2: Turkey – Keyif

 

In Turkey, people value the experience of Keyif (“kay-eef”). This is the art of quiet relaxation and living in the moment.

The great thing about this practice is that you don’t have to go out into nature to do it. Just find a few minutes of quiet time in your day to relax, engage with your surroundings, and appreciate being present in the moment.

These are usually simple activities. Sitting on a bench by the Bosphorous watching the sunset, throwing simit to sea gulls from the back of a ferry, drinking raki and eating mezes with your friends, watching the bosphorous from a hill, listening to gypsy musicians on the street and so on.

You would see many people in Istanbul not doing much, seemingly idle, they might be at that point enjoying the keyif of living in Istanbul. Food, drink, friends, views, the Bosphorous are all important elements of Keyif in istanbul.

Day 3: Germany – Gemütlichkeit

 

You could choose to practice Gemütlichkeit (geh-moot-lich-kite), which hails from Germany. The word means “geniality,” or “friendliness” and is all about celebrating your appreciation of others.
This is a fantastic mindfulness practice because it’s all about getting together with the people you love and honoring their presence in your life. It could be as boisterous as a party or as simple as making the effort to offer well wishes to everyone who crosses your path.
When you devote your time and energy to focusing on others in this way, it takes you out of your own head and helps you feel a stronger sense of empathy and connection to all of the wonderful people in your world.
Gemütlichkeit cannot be experienced alone because one of its necessary components is having a sense of social belonging. And we’re not talking about being at a dinner and having everyone stop by at your table to talk, or being the life of the party. It’s more about doing something, like spending an afternoon at a beer garden, that everyone in the community recognises as a pleasant but largely pointless activity.

Day 4: Japan –  “Shirin-Yoku”

 

In Japan, people follow a practice called Shirin-Yoku, which means “forest bathing.”
This custom is drawn on as a kind of medicine or healing therapy currently intended to combat the stresses of modern living and the relentless presence of technology in our lives. If you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed, a great solution is to take a 15-minute walk in nature. And while you’re there, focus on your surroundings.
What do you see, hear, feel, and smell?
The key to unlocking the power of the forest is in the five senses. Let nature enter through your ears, eyes, nose, mouth, hands and feet. Listen to the birds singing and the breeze rustling in the leaves of the trees. Look at the different greens of the trees and the sunlight filtering through the branches. Smell the fragrance of the forest and breathe in the natural aromatherapy of phytoncides. Taste the freshness of the air as you take deep breaths. Place your hands on the trunk of a tree. Dip your fingers or toes in a stream. Lie on the ground. Drink in the flavor of the forest and release your sense of joy and calm. This is your sixth sense, a state of mind. Now you have connected with nature.
Breathe in the beauty of it all. Consider the resilience of nature, the amazing adaptability of life itself, and remember that you too are a creature of the natural world.
It will shift your perspective and help you develop a more relaxed and positive mindset.

Day 5: Tibet – Metta Meditation 

 

The Tibetan practice of Metta meditation is somewhat similar to this. It focuses on cultivating a sense of benevolence and goodwill towards others.

Metta translates to “loving kindness” and involves entering into a meditative state and then consciously directing positive thoughts to other people. In Buddhist tradition, this is one of the four sublime states of the mind.

To do this practice one sits in a comfortable posture, evokes a prayerful attitude and then thinks of oneself and wishes oneself well. Then one thinks of a cherished person, a neutral person, a disliked person and finally all people and likewise wishes them well in turn.

Done with sensitivity and over a period of time, loving kindness meditation gradually develops a deeper self-acceptance, a strengthened appreciation of those one already loves, a warm and growing interest in casual acquaintances and less ill-will towards those one previously did not like.

Benefits

A regular metta meditation practice can be beneficial for both your mind and body.

  • Promotes self-compassion
  • Decreases stress and anxiety
  • Reduces physical pain
  • Improves longevity
  • Enhances social connections

Day 6: Hawaii: Ho’oponopono

 

This is also called as a forgiveness and reconciliation practice. The word, Ho’oponopono means “to make right.” At the surface level, it’s about reciting the mantra, “I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you.” This ancient Hawaiian practice of forgiveness functions as both a communication concept for reconciliation and a tool for restoring self-love and balance.
And while you do this, you think about a person or people you have wronged, unintentionally or otherwise, and all the people who have wronged or who have upset you. And you let go of all of the anger, disappointment, shame, sorrow, or guilt you feel.
It’s a powerful way to heal old wounds, let go of old stories, and cultivate a more empathetic connection with others – and with yourself.
If you are ever about to have a difficult conversation with someone, reciting this mantra to yourself while you focus on the other person beforehand will help you remain calm, empathetic, and understanding, so you can achieve a better outcome.
With regular practice, reciting these simple phrases helps develop self-love and self-esteem at the times when we need it most. In this way, it’s both a lullaby to the self and a guaranteed insightful way to approach forgiving other people. Part of the reason why this traditional Hawaiian forgiveness prayer is so powerful is that it first requires you to acknowledge that wrong was done by saying you’re sorry.
Having other people acknowledge our feelings is a universal need; in ho’oponopono, you must first acknowledge that wrongdoing exists, which is a way of acknowledging these feelings. Only then will it be possible to find it in your heart to forgive someone else, or yourself.
Ivy Child TeamBringing Mindfulness to the World