Can you focus long enough to read this column without running your to-do list in your head?
Some days, I am not sure that I can. Being mindful and present is difficult. What with blackberries, Twitter, Facebook and a steady diet of sensory overload, it's no wonder most of us find it difficult to focus, even for a few minutes sometimes.
An inability to focus makes it easier to make unhealthy choices.
This was brought into focus for me recently when I read about the work of Sarah Bowen, a research scientist at the University of Washington's Addictive Behaviors Research Center. She has studied smokers and the practice of mindfulness as a tool to quick smoking. Pretty cool.
She taught her study participants to "surf the urge" (think confronting a wave, riding the wave, and getting to the other side unscathed) when they had a craving to smoke. Although her control group showed no change in smoking rates after a week, the group utilizing her techniques cut back by 37 percent at a week.
I imagine that this technique of mindfulness can be useful for a variety of everyday wellness obstacles: should I exercise today, or is the couch too inviting? Should I finish off those last holiday cookies, or peel a beautiful, ripe and in-season grapefruit?
Given that it's January, a New Year, and most of us have made at least one New Year's resolution (and perhaps already broken one New Year's resolution), I challenge you to surf an urge today. See what happens when you want to choose an unhealthy option, stop, think about it, sit with it and move on.
Once you've ridden one wave, the next one is so much easier!
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