I started to do the research and to my surprise there is decade’s worth of scientifical — scientific and medical evidence showing us the health and the psychological benefits of yoga and meditation. I know some of you must be wondering oh my gosh is this doctor seriously going to tell me to sit down and meditate? My parents were thinking the same thing. My mother — “Oh Romila, you are leaving to go to yoga teacher today? You’re a doctor1” Oh my god please don’t tell my mom I did this on stage. I know and so of course my response was, “Mom, we’re of Asian descent; didn’t anybody see this coming?”
So I started to travel around the world and study various forms of yoga and meditation with this one question in my mind: how can we shut off that fear that occurs from one of stress and career burnout and connect to our internal soul compass? To connect to our internal soul compass, we must do just one thing: breathe.
How many of you are aware of your own breath in this moment? Yeah, I wasn’t aware of my own breath until I couldn’t breathe anymore. This is why I wanted to take mindfulness from the meditation mat into a mindful way of living. You know, what is mindfulness? It’s a term we hear so often thrown out in the media these days, right?
Mindfulness is one simple action: breathe. So you see when we breathe, we bring ourselves to the present moment. And in this present moment is where all of your dreams and desires reside. To connect to your purpose, you just have to breathe.
The answers we seek, like deep with inside of us not in this external world and these things that we buy. And what do I mean when I say inside of us? This is that powerful place again where all the answers reside: your intuition, that mother’s instinct, your gut instinct and wisdom. This is your internal soul compass.
And so again how do we connect to this place? Breathe! Yeah, as a neurologist that’s now specializing in mind body medicine, I help clients and corporation heal from the ongoing effects of stress and career burnout through mindful living. Mindful living will help you connect to your internal soul compass and I’m going to give you three of those steps right now.
Step one: is self-compassion through self-care. Self-care is not selfish; it’s just 20 minutes a day to honor your mind, your body and your spirit. Take this time to do an activity that makes you feel relaxed, like listening to uplifting music, taking a walk outside in nature even on a rainy day, yeah, or taking a long hot bath. It is that simple to start calming down the stress hormones in our minds and our bodies that get elevated when we’re stressed out from our jobs.
You know, it’s these stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol that get elevated and just fuel the insomnia, anxiety and that difficulty performing at our jobs that slows us down. You know, many of us have been programmed to think that self-care is not allowed. But I ask you honestly: how can you give of yourself authentically when your own gas tank is on empty? Our soul is a vessel and if we give from a place of empty, we’re just passing on this fear and stress and people around us can sense that.
But when we fill our own lives with love and a sense of compassion, we not only feel peace but we share that with everyone around us. So now that we have calmed down our minds and our bodies from the stress response, we’re going to feel a little less angry and try to find happiness in our lives.
So how can we be happy? This is the next step of mindful living: Adopt an attitude of gratitude. You know, clinical research shows that no matter how much material wealth or even high-heeled shoes we accumulate, this does not lead to happiness. Happiness in people is sustained by one thing universally and that’s having an attitude of gratitude. So think in giving thanks my own blessings will multiply.
It is amazing how the brain works. When we focus on what we’re grateful for, we’re actually training our brains to focus on what’s positive in the world.
So how can we start? Tonight, when you’re going to bed, take a moment and think of the three or five things that happened today that you’re truly grateful for. This is how we start to dim the negativity.
So now we have calmed down the stress response in our minds and our bodies and adopted an attitude of gratitude, it’s going to feel a lot more peaceful to sit and be still in meditation.
This leads to the next step of mindful living: Be Still. How many of you have a moment in your day to be still? If you don’t think, so I’m going to show you how. Breathe. And if you need a reminder to disconnect from social media, hashtag breathe.
You know, with the advances in neuroscience and neural imaging, we can see in real life the improvement of the structure and the function of the brain when we sit down to meditate. Meditation is as simple as consciously connecting to your inhalations and your exhalations. This is how we modulate the autonomic nervous system turning off the stress response and promoting relaxation.