Finding Your Mindfulness Inspiration and Motivation
August is just around the corner and we, at The Wellness Project, always gather some delightful events to mention around town, which are coming soon! We thought we would add mindfulness into the theme of August, to offer some inspiration and motivation to slowly take you in that direction. The definition of mindfulness is living in the present moment, in the here and now, being fully aware to all that is around you while practicing and cultivating patience, discipline and loving kindness.
An insightful Harvard study by two researchers, Matthew A. Killingsworth and Daniel T. Gilbert, revealed that 47% of our waking hours are spent on autopilot, a state where you are doing something yet not fully present. Wow, that is almost half our waking state, yikes! Killingsworth states, “A human mind is a wandering mind, and a wandering mind is an unhappy mind.” Gilbert adds to this thought: “The ability to think about what is not happening is a cognitive achievement that comes at an emotional cost.” Living in the present moment fully alert, rather than in the past or future, is the aim of the game, so you can be fully conscious to what is happening as it happens.
Here are a few proven benefits that mindfulness can give you, the list is rather extensive so we’ll just mention a few key points:
- Being in the present moment reduces stress and anxiety. It takes you out of the centre of the brain where the “fight or flight” response activates and shrinks the amygdala.
- Mindfulness improves your memory and fine-tunes your focus and attention.
- Mindfulness reduces insomnia, depression and increases a sense of wellbeing, while improving memory, confidence, emotional strength and leads to happiness.
We thought we would put together a few activities that you can do to be positively in the present moment while contributing to the change in the world at the same time.
‘Being’ in nature
We all fall into the trap of burnout and exhaustion with overwork and the demands of daily life. The best way to turn off the emergency valve or anxiety button is to slow down and the finest place to do that is in nature. Walking in nature allows you to reboot your system. It’s the surest way to ground yourself, observe thought patterns, and gives you the time to dream, reflect and create new ideas on the horizon. It’s a quiet moment where you can find your inner wisdom and listen to it. Find any spot in Lebanon to walk, like Mar Chaaya or Faraya, or anywhere else, is really simple but effective. We’ll offer a few options below that you can do around this beautiful country! Wherever you are, try to spend five minutes earthing or grounding, which means walking barefoot on the earth. There are scientific benefits that will soothe physical ailments of all kinds while grounding you on to the earth, inspiring you to care about the treatment of mother earth at the same time. Here’s a great video revealing the scientific benefits of earthing, just watching this alone will make you want to kick off your shoes:
Interactive City Walk In Tripoli
This particular activity is engaging; it’s a certain way of taking you outside your everyday life and forces you to become aware and alert while interacting with your environment amongst new people and surroundings. Activities include a mini pottery workshop; soap making, and consciously walking around Tripoli to admire all the hidden gems. It is available every Saturday and runs until the end of October. It’s a great way to spend a day observing all that Tripoli has to offer. Find all the details here.
Ouyoun el-Samak River with We Are Hikers
This event is one that truly takes mindful walking, the state of being present and receptive in the moment, to another level. Professional guides take you on a hike and it’s the perfect way to be in nature and turn-off all technology for the day. After the hike, a short refreshing swim in the Ouyoun El-Samak River is offered. Find out all the details here.
Let’s face it, we all want to have some creative outlet unless you’re a full-time artist. Exploring your options allows you to dream and sets a plan into action to find one creative activity that makes your heart sing. Mindfulness and creativity are partners, and we know that mindfulness will boost your creativity while you engage in the ever-present moment. It’s the easiest way to find yourself immersed in an activity that brings you into a state of heightened awareness. Just select one activity that you never seem to have time for and make it happen. It could be photography, ceramics, painting, cooking (not a task), writing, drawing, colouring, martial arts or dancing. The list is endless; the only thing you have to do is make a choice and that will put you back on the creative track. Here are a couple of activities that might peak your interest (there are so many others):
Art Therapy Classes
Art Therapy is one of the alternative ways to express feelings, emotions, and perceptions through the creation of visual and sensory symbols. It’s expressive art and gets you into a focused state without needing to be a professional artist. Classes run through Monday to Saturday, and the benefits run deep: develop emotional, cognitive and motor skills while in a state of relaxation, building a sense of self and improved self-esteem. Here are all the details.
Playing with ceramics is a great way of being mindful and grounding oneself at the same time. The bonus is you get to take your creation home. Another plus is it’s impossible to multitask, so one can fully flow into awareness because there really is no other choice. You simply have to be alert; one moment of distraction and your creation can be damaged. There are many venues around town but we picked one that is charmingly located in Broumana and run by a beautiful woman named Joyce, who loves sharing ceramics with people at her studio Earthing. Here’s the info you need.
Daily Tasks Turned Into Mindful Moments
Mindfulness is not meditating all day long; rather it’s about paying attention each moment of the day. The best way to begin this practice is by taking one day out of the week where you actually set the intention of being fully present in the here and now all day long. That means when you are cooking, you take notice of all the colors, smells, and textures, for example. Once you explore this one-day a week with your full attention, it will be easier to incorporate more mindfulness it into your life the rest of the week. And if you can meditate 15 minutes a day, that would be an extra bonus. Here’s one place you can explore this concept in Lebanon and it’s not the only place!
Mindfulness Sessions with AUBMC Health and Wellness Center
Every Wednesday night for 1 hour and half, The Health and Wellness Center offers mindfulness meditation session by Mrs. Nawal Fleihan. The benefits gained are reduced stress and anxiety, balancing mood states, lowering blood pressure and aiding in better sleep, to name just a few. Check out the details here.
Exploring Something New
It’s surely imperative to explore one new adventure every month. Taking-in art and culture, or a new activity requires a little motivation and effort, but once you are there, it can inspire you into action, reflection and creativity. It is also an excellent way of practicing mindfulness as it can awaken your senses, emotions, and level of observation. There are many art exhibitions, thought-provoking films found at film festivals, or a new form of exercise like Tai Chi. It’s the perfect way to change routines and observe yourself and the world around you.
Sursock Museum Late Nights
The Sursock Museum offers late night exploration every Thursday from 12 pm until 9 pm.You can discover their exhibitions and collection, as well as participate in talks, performances, screenings and workshops. Check it out here: http://www.lebtivity.com/events/search/%22sursock%20museum%22
Baalbek International Festival
Thought-provoking films to awaken your senses! All the details are here.
A few other tricks to add to the mindful path:
- Deep listening without judgment and with eye contact.
- Reflect each day on why you are here.
- Breathe deeply and consider a Yoga Nidra class just once.
- Slow down and put your phone away when spending quality time with others.
- Spend time daydreaming; time to explore infinite possibilities.
- Recycle if you can and avoid single-use-plastic when possible, and bring a reusable bag wherever you go; it all contributes to mindful living on the planet.
Here’s a link to captivating podcasts hosted by Krista Tippet. She is a journalist and former diplomat who created a show called “On Being,” which reflects on “the human questions that gave rise to our spiritual traditions.” The show revolves around the following questions: “what does it mean to be human, how do we want to live, and who will we be to each other?” Here is her site to find the link to free podcasts, and here’s one selected for you called “The Art of Stillness.”
That’s all for now folks! We hope this inspires and encourages you to live a more mindful, conscious life. With a little bit of focus and planning, you’ll be right on track for the month of August, fully alert and attentive. We’ll leave you with a 5-minute mindful meditation that is quick and easy. Share any methods you have with us too!