Our minds whirl with, approximately, one thought every 1.2 seconds. To become more present in the moment, we need to train our minds to focus on what is around us. One of the benefits of meditation (or mindfulness) is that it lowers stress by relaxing and calming the mind. For retirees, it can help reduce / control your blood pressure, delay the onset of dementia / Alzheimer's just to name a couple of the health benefits.
If you are just beginning, your goal may be to practice for five minutes each day. This will begin to change your mind helping you feel more centered, settled and present throughout the day. Also, it can give you tools to deal with some of the stress points in your daily life.
To get started, the simplest method is to choose an otherwise mundane task and strive to fully experience that moment with all your senses. This could be having a shower, getting dressed, eating breakfast, doing the dishes, brushing your teeth, etc. Generally, our minds are anywhere but on the task at hand. Usually, our thoughts are on the multiple things planned for the day and what surprises are in store.
This exercise becomes one of focus. If you find your mind wandering, you will want to refocus. Acknowledge stray thoughts and, then, allow them to flow away. With practice, it does become easier.
Objective: To immerse yourself in the experience of having a shower.
>As you turn the water on, remind yourself that this is going to be a great shower.
>Hear the sound of warm water cascading over you.
>Feel the slipperiness of the soap between your fingers.
>See how the water glides down your body from the shower head.
>Breathe in the steam filling the shower.
>Enjoy the taste of the spray of water.
>The smell of the fresh towel as you dry off.
>Feel how your body feels clean and rejuvenated.
Reflect on all the sensations and thoughts you had during your shower. Think about how much you enjoyed this shower as it prepared you for the day ahead. This focuses you to live in the present.
The next exercise is to calm your mind prior to sleep. Music can help with this process. You might want to try listening to some nature sounds – ones that you find soothing and non-intrusive like falling rain, waterfalls, waves hitting the beach, birds singing. This can block out that “white noise” which could be interfering with your focus.
Some sites offer free MP3 downloads of relaxation music and sounds. Here are a couple of examples from SoundCloud:
Exercise 2 - Sleep Example:
Objective: To sleep more restfully.
>Tell yourself that you will have a deep restful sleep as you get into bed.
>See your bed is ready for you.
>Feel the softness of the sheets as you crawl in and find that comfortable position.
>Breathe deeply and relax, noticing the sweet smell of your pillow.
>Focus on relaxing every part of your body.
>Start with your toes and work through every body part up to your head and brain.
>Feel all of you unwind as you start to fall into a deeper sleep.
>Tune out any background sounds and cast away unbidden thoughts.
With practice, you may find it easier to get to sleep and even feel more refreshed in the morning.
We all have limiting beliefs that we are only aware of at a sub-conscious level. These beliefs can help us avoid situations of risk. However, they keep us safely in our comfort zone. Unfortunately, this can prevent us from growing and achieving the things we want. Retirement presents its own set of limiting beliefs that many could struggle with (I am never retiring, I won't live that long, etc.).
As an example, many people struggle with weight loss. With the best of intentions, they commit themselves to a new diet. Often within the week, they are struggling because they are not seeing any results. The root problem may be a limiting belief which is making success unreachable.
The analytical mind can be at a loss to recognize limiting beliefs. However, you can “reverse engineer” your previous decisions to better grasp why or why you didn’t take certain actions. This allows you to remember and recognize your thought and behavior patterns. In this way, you become more aware of your limiting belief(s). Additionally, this may trigger you to think back to when and what incident(s) initiated this judgment.
There are countless limiting beliefs linked to ideas such as social awkwardness, self-confidence, diet, fitness, or even being open to trying new activities. We may be aware of our limitations and just accept them thinking there is no recourse. Effectively, we allow ourselves to become powerless to change them. Further, we often self-sabotage ourselves leading to destructive behaviors such as:
>Procrastination / Overachiever
>Self-medication with drugs or alcohol
>Emotional eating / Starvation
>Interpersonal conflict / Isolation
>Loss of self-image / Narcissism
The first step is awareness, what exactly is holding you back?
>I just have no willpower.
>I am afraid it won’t work and nothing will change anyways.
>I don’t have time to focus on me right now.
>I am too stressed / tired after a long day.
The underlying message of every limiting belief is “I told you so”.
Why do you want to change and why is it important to you?
Execute a sustainable plan that you know you can stick with. Even with affirmations, expect some set backs. Probably, your own negative self-talk (inner critic) will be your greatest challenge. Be aware of sabotaging thoughts and begin to restate them with more positive ones.
Sabotaging excuse example:
It’s been 2 weeks and I don’t see any changes. Nothing ever seems to work out for me, maybe this is not the time for me.
Supportive thought example:
It’s been 2 weeks and while I don’t see any changes yet, I know I’m on the right track. This is important to me and I am worth it.
>The Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook: A Proven Way to Accept Yourself, Build Inner Strength, and Thrive – Kristin Neff, Christopher Germer
>The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion – Christopher K. Germer
>The Gifts of Imperfection – Brene Brown
>The Healthy Mind Toolkit – Alice Boyes
© Copyright 2019 Retires Great