Principle # 4: The Every-Day Warrior

“Mindfulness of the Present is essential in assuming command of our inner warriors”

The Spartans do not ask how many are the enemy but where are they.”

When we are mindful, we know the whereabouts of our enemy and we stand calmly and ready to engage in peaceful dialog.

It is established that in order to manage the effects of our trauma, we must pursue activities that promote mindfulness.

We know that we can actually redirect the source of flashbacks, anxiety, or panic attacks by the way we” breathe, chant, or move” (Van der Kolk, 2014).  Western Culture  is way slow in catching on to this and there is too much influence among established medical practices, especially the Veteran’s Administration, that continues to relegate treatments that promote mindfulness to “alternative” medicine.  I say that thousands of years of mindfulness practices that come from the Orient is pretty potent evidence.

For my friends and colleagues who engage in either the practice or teaching of Yoga, a study conducted by the National Institute of Health shows that 10 weeks of Yoga practice markedly reduced the PTSD symptoms of patients who had failed to respond to medications or other forms of “treatment”.  Not only Yoga, but learning and engaging in one of the martial arts promotes increased ability to manage arousal when our pasts barge into our present, as we have established in Principle # 1 in the Handy Guide.”   I have a colleague in Sarasota, Florida, who provides pro bono yoga classes to veterans.  For the Every-Day Warrior, this is a blessing!

Just imagine, my Every-Day Warrior friends, clients, and colleagues, that by simply taking a mindful moment to focus on breathing in and out, slowly, deeply, and with purpose, the intensity of our emotion can be diffused and bring us closer to a state of equilibrium.

Take a mindful moment.

Begin by keeping it simple.   Have a seat.  Feel your butt in the chair and allow your body to feel supported.  Your feet on the floor.  It might help to have a sachet of a pleasant scent such as lavender, vanilla, rose, or rosemary in order to engage a greater proportion of your sensory system.

Breathe in slowly through your mouth for 4 counts.

Exhale slowly through your lips for 5 counts.

Take a pause between breaths.

Do this ten times.  Repeat.  If you lose count, just start over and say to yourself, I am aware that I lost count.  It’s still a mindful moment.

Make your mouth produce saliva to engage your parasympathetic system.  Be aware of the air flowing in and out of your lungs, the benefit of oxygen to your well being, and the release of toxins as you exhale carbon dioxide.  Keep it simple.

And, hey, we’re not talking about a huge slice of your day to be mindful.  Be mindful when brushing your teeth.  When washing the dishes, be mindful that your are washing the dishes.  Use only the physical and emotional muscles necessary for the job.

I started my day with this offering from Jason Stephenson who has uploaded a guided meditation for just about any contingency.

There are innumerable resources available to assist in learning to be mindful.  Browse the web with key word “mindfulness”.  YouTube is far and away my best source of meditation tools.

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