What is mindfulness?
The dictionary definition is
1. the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.
2. a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.
Many may believe mindfulness is all about saying “OMMMMMM” cross legged in a quiet room often depicted this way in cartoons, tv, the media and films. Although meditation can be part of the mindfulness practice and has many positive effects on people that participate 20-30 minutes a day it isn’t the only thing you can do.
To me mindfulness is the ability to sperate the past and future and concentrate on the present moment. I use mindfulness methods to enable my brain to focus and give me some perspective when I need to be more in the moment. I try to do a little bit everyday normally in the morning to prepare me for the day or before bed to clear my mind and get a good night’s rest!
There are many proven benefits associated with mindfulness practices such as reducing stress, reducing anxiety/depression, improves concentration, improves sleep quality, increases resilience and helping sufferers of chronic pain.
Some little things you can do to start bringing mindfulness into your life are:
- Practicing gratitude – What are the positive things in your present life you are grateful for or appreciate?
- Keep your body healthy and listen to it – How is your body feeling today, take a moment to check on it. If you have aches or pain acknowledge them and try and find a solution like
mentally agreeing to have a hot bath later and if pains are reoccurring seek medical help!
- Feel your emotions – Take a minute to really experience your feelings good or bad throughout the day.
- Ignite your senses – When you have 5 minutes perhaps on your lunch break take a walk, stop for a moment. List 5 things you see, 4 things you feel, 3 things you hear, 2 things you smell and 1 thing you can taste. This practice is used as a calming technique for many who suffer with anxiety/panic attacks it really centres you and brings your present into full focus.
- Breathe – Close your eyes and concentrate on your breathing and only your breathing. Really feel every inhale and exhale just for a minute at a time.
I have also recently introduced a small amount of meditation into my nightly routine. There are many guided meditations you can find online which are 5-10 minutes long. I do these when I am already in bed and my favourite one, I have found it talks me down from the day ready to sleep. As someone that has always struggled with sleep, I have really benefitted from this!
It starts by asking you to lay on your back with your arms by your sides. It instructs you to inhale and exhale for a while then begins to relax your body by instructing you to relax your muscles one by one starting from your toes slowly traveling up your body all the way to your head. Mostly by the time the video finishes I have already nodded off to sleep!
My advice would be to start small.
Introduce a few practices at a time and eventually you will find you naturally find more time within your day to do more. Most of the practices take no time at all and can be done while you are going about your usual routine.
We can all build up the routines and aim to one day be fitting in those 20–30-minute meditations!