Take Flight: Five Ways to Make Mindfulness a Priority 

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InDependent’s Kimberly Bacso and Maralis Self dive into mindfulness with Team RWB

The connection between physical and mental health is often overlooked, but that connection can be critical to the success of any workout, nutrition, or training plan. 

That’s why this week of the Team RWB Take Flight Challenge is all about mindfulness. We explored how mindfulness can benefit Eagle Nation with Kimberly Bacso, co-founder and operations director of InDependent and experienced registered yoga teacher, and Maralis Self, Reiki Master Practitioner, Yoga Teacher, and InDependent volunteer.

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness, by definition, is “the practice of maintaining a non-judgemental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis,” which can sound intimidating. The good news is that mindfulness means something different to everyone.

For Army spouse Kimberly Bacso, mindfulness is the opportunity to cultivate daily practices that help train her mind and body, learning skills to use in unsettling times. For Maralis Self, mindfulness is simply making the choice to be present in the current moment, living with purpose, and making choices that promote well-being and reduce stress.

Some people think that mindfulness is for “crunchy, granola types,” – in Bacso’s words – but mindfulness can be beneficial to anyone, especially members of the military community.

“We are a community that must become accustomed to expecting change. This includes service members and their families. When we are not being mindful, we tend to have more worry and anxiety because instead of existing in the current moment, we allow our thoughts to travel. We may become worried about the future and what “might” happen,” said Self. 

Impacts of Mindfulness on Health

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Mindfulness can help support individual physical and mental health and wellness goals by helping you learn to listen to your body and identify when it’s time to push or to take a break. 

“You can improve your physical fitness while training for a marathon by faithfully following the training schedule. But, if you stubbornly push through without heeding cues from your body, you may cause harm that could compromise your race,” said Bacso.

According to Bacso, veterans and our nation’s military community frequently deal with stressors like major changes in responsibilities at work, taking on a mortgage, changes in residence, loss of a close friend and maybe even retirement. From our work here at Team RWB, we know that veterans face fitness challenges and isolation.

“We’ve normalized these major stressors and we feel like we’re not measuring up if we’re not coping well because somebody always has it worse or everybody’s in a similar situation,” said Bacso.

Mindfulness can be a way to help combat that attitude, leaving you physically and mentally ready and available to take on the next challenge.

“This life, in this body is what we must focus on because it is the only thing we can impact with certainty. Caring for the physical body by being active allows us to sustain and maintain the body that carries us. The state of our physical body can affect our mental health. It is important to adopt a positive mindset to support the pursuit of mental health,” said Self.

Making Mindfulness a Priority

As you Take Flight during the last week of this challenge- our friends at InDependent challenge you to choose one of the following five practices this week. Share with your friends, fellow Eagles, and family using #RWBTakeFlight, for accountability. 

  1. Meditate. Even just for five minutes a day. 
  2. Invite some quiet into your day. Turn off the TV/music/podcast and be alone with your thoughts during your workout or commute. 
  3. Take your workout outside with the intention of observing the sounds and colors of nature. 
  4. Eat sitting down without distractions. Notice how your food looks and tastes and how it makes you feel.
  5. Try yoga, a whole new way of tuning into your whole self. If you’ve tried it before and didn’t like it, try a different style.

If you’re interested in learning about health and wellness techniques through InDependent, be sure to check out the Virtual Wellness Summit for military and first responder spouses.

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