Managing a business, being a parent, living life – simply being human – can be super stressful, especially these days. So many of us are running on all cylinders, tires down to the last thread. As Fred Eaglesmith sings on one of the best trucker songs on the planet, “the light keeps coming on,” we’ve “got water in the fuel.”
No matter what we do, we can’t avoid stress. The more we try to get out of its way, the faster we get run over by the Mac truck of the Cosmos. But we can change how our minds and bodies react to it.
Mindfulness can heighten our intuition and transform how we manage pain and stress by living gracefully in the moment. It can actually rewire our cells, prolong longevity, and help us live longer and healthier.
In our latest In the Chair with Bear podcast, Humanity Media CEO Anthony Bear sits down with Joree Rose, a licensed marriage and family therapist, author, and mindfulness guru. They discuss the benefits of mindfulness – how it can transcend stress and lead to happier, healthier, and more connected lives.
Joree is a mindfulness and meditation teacher, coach, speaker, and author of the newly released “A Year of Gratitude,” “Daily Moments of Reflection, Grace and Thanks” as well as two mindfulness books, “Squirmy Learns to be Mindful” and “Mindfulness, It’s Elementary.” She has been featured on Oprahmag.com, NBCnews.com, Business Insider, KTLA News.
Mindfulness: A state of being, not a verb
Joree describes mindfulness as “the answer to everything.” It’s about living with greater awareness by setting attention and intention. Only through self-awareness can we truly exist in the present moment – practice kindness and self-compassion, connect with the root of our breath as it heals our mind and body.
Interestingly, she points out that mindfulness is distinct from meditation, though many incorrectly use the terms interchangeably. Meditation is an action she describes as “a to do item.” Mindfulness is a state of being, “a to be item.” It’s a state of consciousness and a way of looking at the world that transcends pain, sadness, and stress by recognizing their existence, appreciating them in the moment, allowing them their due.
As she explains, mindfulness is not avoiding pain, but controlling how we react to it through non-attachment. Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional. We don’t have to like stress, pain, and sadness – but we can stop resisting it. And in doing so, we can experience true freedom.
The storm makes the rainbow possible. It cannot be avoided. Thunder and rain have their place and purpose. They are essential to the bloom.
How to Bystep the Beast of Judgement
Joree explains how her approach to mindfulness revamped her parenting style and helped her own children grow into self-actualized and capable human beings. But her advice can really apply to all facets of life, including business, careers, and overall happiness.
Don’t avoid fear – name it. Don’t pretend life is nothing but roses and your business is scaling to the sky. Sometimes it just isn’t, yet. And that’s okay. Recognize and acknowledge the adversity. Put it into words and writing. That’s what helps us process fear and disappointment. And then we can do something about it.
As Joree explains, there’s the first dart and the second dart. The first dart is what life throws at you as part of the human experience. The second dart is what we throw at ourselves – the “why me, why now,” the internal judgment that can grow into a mythic beast. Practicing mindfulness helps to differentiate the two and allows us to control how we respond to stress and adversity.
Mindfulness and the Science of Youth
Science backs up the idea that mindfulness can help us live longer and healthier. Practicing mindfulness and meditation has been found to preserve telomeres, the protective caps at the end of chromosomes. They work like the plastic aglets at the ends of shoelaces to prevent them from unraveling. Shorter telomeres are associated with high stress and increase the risk for diseases like cancer. Researchers from the University of California found that people who meditate and practice mindfulness have significantly higher telomerase activity than non-meditators.
Under neuroplasticity, the brain can change and adapt to experience. The brain literally reorganizes pathways, builds new connections, and creates new neurons as it adapts to pain.
Mindfulness works the same way. It provides control over the pain and provides a new path through adversity. It’s the bridge to freedom, helping us to lead happier and healthier lives in control of the fear that holds us down.
Live in the moment. Let go and release. Through mindfulness, we realize our capacity to choose and rewire our brains for a better present and future. Breathe through the pain and become one with the suffering – that’s how we grow.