It's Alzheimer's Awareness Month. The bad news is that researchers say that one new case of dementia is detected globally every four seconds, with an estimation that by the year 2050, more than 115 million people will have dementia worldwide. The good news is that studies have also found that practicing the Buddhist philosophy of mindfulness actually helps reduce the effects of dementia as well as improving mental health and well-being.
"So does this mean we have to go and live in the mountains to be mentally well?!"
No! You can practice mindfulness easily anywhere...unless you want to go and live in the Himalayas then punardasanya!
(Credit: Universal Pictures)
Mindfulness has been around for thousands of years but has sadly faded out of the western world with the rise of our modern society. It's easy to get swept up with everyday life and in turn this brings a mixed bag of emotions and having to deal with these kinds of stresses on the daily is damaging to a person's overall well-being and we lose our sense of self, where we are, what we're doing and we turn on autopilot.
That is exactly why we need mindfulness in our lives. It's about being fully in the present, aware of our surrounding, all of our senses and current emotions. It's turning off that autopilot and stepping into life. As a way of dealing with our emotions, improving our mental health and just taking a time out. There's a reason why monks are always happy.
And now you're thinking; 'ok, so what do I actually have to do to be mindful?'
Well, the answer is simple
Practicing mindfulness techniques in nature brings a great sense of contentedness with one's surroundings. If you've had a really tough day and are feeling anxious or stressed, just go outside and stop. Be present in the moment, don't focus on what caused you to feel these feelings just focus on your breathing and your senses. Here are some techniques you could try.
(Credit: Warner Brothers)
Sight: Count all the trees you can see in your peripheral vision; what types are they? What colours can you see in the leaves? What animals can you see?
Sound: What can you hear? Leaves rustling? Dogs barking? Bring full awareness to your senses. If you're out with friends, you could make it into a group activity and have a game of echo location.
Touch: As you continue to walk find different objects and learn their texture, the bark of a tree. How does it differ to other trees? What makes it different? It's a good way of boosting your horticultural knowledge as well. Feel the ground beneath supporting you? Mother nature got your back.
Smell: Breathe in the fresh air and try some breathing exercises. Count the seconds between inhale and exhale. If your mind starts wandering just bring it back to your breathing. Remind yourself that among all the tension, everything you do can be beneficial to something else right down to the nature around you taking in the carbon dioxide you exhale.
By practicing this you create the amazing capability to distance yourself from your daily problems, separating those negative emotions and ultimately letting go, to refresh and restart your day, any time, any place.
We'd love to hear from you if, you found any of these tips useful.