Dr. Trisha Macnair, in her book Live Well, offers 100 ways to develop well-being. Trisha has been a medical doctor for over thirty years and developed a speciality in “active ageing”. Her book is focused on developing a healthy and long life and her many simple ways of achieving this include suggestions re nutrition, exercise and lifestyle. Here I will focus on Trisha’s suggestions that relate to mindfulness.
Mindfulness for a healthy and long life
Trisha recommends several well-being strategies that are directly related to mindfulness:
- Meditation – the psychological and physical benefits of meditation are well researched and documented. Besides being a calming influence and source of tranquillity, meditation improves clarity and creativity and can contribute to mental health by helping to reduce negative thoughts, improve mood, develop wisdom and manage challenging emotions.
- Find your happy – underlying Trisha’s suggestions in relation to enjoying the physical and mental health benefits of being happy, is a focus on mindfulness. This involves awareness of what contributes to happiness and unhappiness in our lives, tuning into experiences of well-being, and making time for ourselves to enable self-care.
- Keep moving – several of Trisha’s recommendations relate to movement and she extols the physical benefits of walking, yoga and Tai Ch. The mental health benefits of these practices can be enhanced by adopting mindful walking, treating Tai Chi as meditation-in -motion with conscious breathing and bodily awareness, and focusing on the meditative elements of yoga.
- Spending time in nature – the benefits of time spent in nature are increasingly being linked to improved physical and mental health and longevity. The mental health benefits of nature can be enriched by meditating on the elements of nature, being conscious of the healing power of nature and developing our capacity for sensory awareness while in nature.
- Doing acts of kindness – the happiness benefits of doing good deeds are well researched. Mindfulness itself can have really positive outcomes for others as well as ourselves by improving many aspects of our interactions – our mood, ability and willingness to listen for understanding, capacity to regulate our emotions and express “sympathetic joy” and our sense of gratitude (not allowing envy to grow). Loving-kindness meditation can also enable us to draw energy and vitality from our sense of connectedness to others and facilitate compassionate action. Through mindfulness we can discover our unique way(s) to contribute to the well-being of others through specific acts of kindness.
Trisha reminds us that there are many simple and readily accessible ways that we can use to develop our well-being and a healthy and long life. The benefits of many of the practices she suggests can be enhanced as we grow in mindfulness. Meditation itself brings substantial physical and mental health benefits. The cumulative effects of the suggested practices can be life-changing because they are mutually self-reinforcing.
By Ron Passfield – Copyright (Creative Commons license, Attribution, Non-Commercial–No Derivatives)
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