• Ingrid Kania, LMT

Monkey Brain & Mindfulness

Do non-stop thoughts keep you up at night? Do you have difficulty concentrating due to the sheer number of thoughts you have?

You may be experiencing monkey brain, a phrase my favorite mindfulness teacher, Kim Green, uses to describe those racing thoughts. Homer Simpson is a prime example of someone who could use mindfulness meditation!

This isn't a scientific term by any means, but it describes how many of us feel in our fast-paced, social media-driven worlds. Having a mind bursting with thoughts isn't necessarily a bad thing, but frequently feeling overwhelmed can prevent you from living to your fullest potential.

Enter mindfulness. You've probably heard of this term and maybe brushed it off as another buzzy trend in the wellness field. I feel it has great potential to counteract monkey brain, especially if it's incorporated into your regular routine.

Let's first define mindfulness.

What is mindfulness? Mindfulness is being aware and conscious of what is happening within you at exactly this moment. It's a form of meditation you can do anywhere and anytime, no special cushions or massage table required (but please get comfy and schedule a massage while you're thinking about it!).

I challenge you to take a quick time-in right now. Consider: How are you feeling as you read this? Who or what do you hear around you? Are you holding your breath? Where are your shoulders - scrunched up by your ears?

If you are holding your breath or tensing your shoulders, you're not alone! I developed the habit of holding my breath while I was working at a high stress job. Mindfulness is all about paying attention to your breath. Your mind will wander and that's part of the practice!

The benefits come when you can let those thoughts go and bring your focus back to your breath. Mindfulness does not require you to breathe in a specific way, just to bring your awareness to your breath. But, if you're interested in learning some particular breathing techniques, one of my favorites is called alternate nostril breathing. Google it!

If you need help getting started, try a mindfulness meditation class or use an app. My preference is for in-person meditations. Getting out of my environment and into a place where the energy and space is made for meditation is my key to success. Lucky for us that are local, my dear friend Kim has a beautiful boutique and meditation studio in West Hartford called Mindfulness & Matters. Check her website out at http://www.mindfulnessandmatters.com/. No, I'm not getting paid for this endorsement, I just really believe in Kim and the peaceful space she has cultivated. She even offers free Saturday morning "Meditation 101" classes (only 30 minutes), which shows you how committed she is to spreading the joy of mindfulness.

In giving massage, my goal is to work mindfully. Sometimes, I notice my breath and my client's breath sync up and that's when I know I've gotten into a flow that's perfectly relaxing to them. On the flip side, any sudden changes in my client's breath may indicate that my pressure is too much or something else is off. Being mindful, or tuned in to these types of changes helps me to give a massage that enhance's my client's experience.

How about you? Do you practice mindfulness? Will you consider starting?