By Joie Goh

We get instructor Elisa Mak, who leads WeBarre’s Mindful Morning classes, to spill the beans on the one thing you should be doing this 2019.

The first thing Elisa wants you to know about meditation is that it’s NOT what most people think. “A common preconceived idea of meditation is saying ‘ohm…..’ and being in a state of complete silence and emptying your mind as though all you see is just clear white background, your mind resembling peace and serenity,” she says.

Instead, meditation is simply a skill. “It’s one that we practice and train our mind to be present in a current moment,” Elisa explains. Think of yourself as a third party, simply observing your thoughts and feelings with no judgment. “By doing so, we learn to accept our situations and handle life with a clearer mind and healthier perspective.”

This practice, she adds, has multitude benefits to all areas of our lives. Now, who wouldn’t want that?

1) It increases work productivity

“Starting the day with a simple mindfulness practice helps me collect my thoughts,” Elisa says. It helps her be aware of issues that are worrying or stressing her out, and highlights what needs to be done that day, and allows her to tackle challenges with a positive mindset. “Also, by envisioning clearly how I want to be that day, and how I want to show and do the things I need to do, I feel more energized and focused!”

2) It makes you plié, passé and relevé better

Can being mindful improve your fitness? Elisa certainly believes so.  “Mindfulness practice allows your busy mind some time in the day to collect your thoughts and feelings,” she says. “In the time of practice, having a clearer idea and feeling on what fitness means to you will naturally create a better focus and energy invested into it.”

That in turn translates to better focus on each movement and muscle engagement in class. Plus, it even helps you be a little bit more aware of areas that have pain that needs a bit more attention to, so you reduce the risk of hurting yourself!

3) It’s literally self-care

“Meditation has been proven to help decrease stress, anxiety and depression,” Elisa says. Again, she repeats, it’s a continuous practice of the mind that trains and improves your mental health in viewing things in life.

“To be present in every moment appreciating and being grateful for what we have and what is before us,” she adds. “This makes me cultivate more joy and happiness in life and definitely lifts up my mood.” By accepting things as it is and understanding that you can’t control everything, meditation focuses on what we can control. “For example, rather than being angry and stressed about something, I ask myself what can I do now to help me in this situation move forward.”

4) It makes you a better friend

Outside of meditation’s benefits on the personal level of mind and body, it also improves your interpersonal relationships. “Mindfulness helps you become a person that can also build, influence and inspire the relationships around you,” Elisa declares. “The positivity you generate from being mindful will be contagious to others and help to shed light on different perspectives to friends or families, handling situations with a bit more calmness through the foundations of acceptance.

Also, being non-judgmental can also strengthen a relationship with a friend – who likes someone who constantly judges others anyway? “Show them you care for them with compassion and empathy, rather than critically judging them and saying negative things that fire them up.”

“Lastly,” Elisa adds, “Being present amongst anyone you are with, giving them 100% focus and undivided attention is something I feel is hard to find nowadays. It’ll be much appreciated!”

Practice it for yourself!

“A simple breathing exercise is the best and simplest way to incorporate meditation into our lives,” Elisa says. “Whenever you feel any moment of negativity – anger, stress, frustration, sadness – just stop for a minute and breathe. Take three long breaths, holding each breathe for about 5-8 seconds.”

You may also recite a little mantra to yourself: ‘May I be well and happy’ or ‘May you be well and happy”,’ if it is directed to someone you’re unhappy with. Or “May we be well and happy” if it involves a two or more people. Spread the Zen!

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