"Mindfulness and Longevity" by Dr. "KT" (Katherine) Kennedy PT.
Being mindful of your breath is the #1 factor to living a long life. Without breath, life in our body would cease to exist. At any given moment one can inspire a present state of awareness using their breath. Have you experienced anxiety, worry, or even shock?
Those states of awareness are changes in your neurological state to a sympathetic drive, the fight or flight state. Naturally, your breathing becomes more rapid and shallow located in the chest and neck. In these moments, one can use the power of their neurology to promote a physiological change in their nervous system. You can in fact change your fight or flight state into a rest and digest state simply through your breath.
Here is a powerful practice Dr KT recommends to her clients:
At any moment of the day or night, you can turn your awareness from whatever it is focusing on to your breath:
-Begin breathing softly in and out through your nose.
-Focusing on deep, belly breaths that are 3-dimensional – expanding like a balloon throughout your abdomen.
-Your exhalations should be longer than the inhale, soft, and slow.
-Every breath that passes your nostrils is counted until you get to 10. Then you start back a 1. Repeat this as many times as necessary. (Dr. KT recommends starting with 10 repetitions.)
Mindfully masticating your food is probably the last thing you have thought of. First you are probably wondering, what new dirty thing am I doing with my food?
Masticating is the art of mechanically digesting your food by grinding it between your teeth using your tongue and saliva…. AKA chewing.
How often do you think about your food as you are chewing? Digestion begins when we smell food: our mouth begins to salivate releasing enzymes to breakdown carbohydrates. The mechanical digestion of chewing is important to break down food into smaller pieces to then be chemically digested in your stomach and small intestine. If food is not properly chewed that means it won’t be fully digested; therefore, the nutrients cannot be absorbed. It will be leaving you the other end just as it came in :)
To properly chew your food to optimal digestion, the first important factor is to consider the environment in which you are eating. If your lifestyle is to eat fast while you are doing something; you are less likely to focus on chewing your food.
Make mealtime a mindful practice by setting all distractions aside and really enjoy your meal. Each bite should be masticated between 20-30 times! Try to taste all the flavors and textures of the food. Taking the time to enjoy a meal by being mindful of how you are eating, it will create harmony and peace within your mind and body.
Have you ever said to yourself, friends, family, even medical professionals: “I have this bad (insert ____ body part) and I feel (insert ____ emotion).”? The most frequent thing Dr. KT hears from her clients is “I have a bad back or neck”. It is important you understand that the body listens and begins to believe what you tell it. So, if you are continually referring to your body as being bad it will begin to embody that on a physical level. The symptoms you are experiencing are your body’s crying for help. Your body is saying “pay attention to me”! Symptoms do not equate to the origin of the dysfunction, says Dr. KT, but rather she teaches a different way to think about how your body talks to you…
By being mindful of how you talk to your body, is precisely what going to facilitate the awareness of how your body talks to you. A wonderful mindfulness practice is Vipassana meditation: a Buddhist meditation technique that involves an observation of self-exploration of the interconnections of the mind and body by attuning one’s attention to the sensations in the physical body. To practice this mediation, you can simply perform a body scan while laying in bed or sitting in a chair:
Begin at your head and scan down towards the feet, just noticing the sensations of your body. Aim to just notice, and if you must label the sensation – label it pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral. This will begin to tune your awareness into your body with neutral words that are not emotionally stimulating.
So how do these 3 mindfulness practices lead to a longer life?
Mindfulness leads to longevity simply because you are more aware of your internal experience. The more time you spend nourishing yourself with the present moment, it is more time you are building a lifelong relationship with yourself. Life is eternal in the present moment. Mindful breathing, eating, and body talk are simple ways you can cultivate awareness to the present moment. Longevity is rooted in one’s ability to maintain health and vitality for a lifetime. Mindfulness simply enhances your longevity by keeping you eternally present to the timeless nature of now.
To experience holistic healing of your mind, body, & soul from within, check out Dr. KT’s FREE Mobility & Yoga Series, by clicking here.
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