Are you forever worrying about tomorrow or fretting over what happened yesterday? Can you remember the last time you embraced or only thought about the present moment? – if the answer to that last question is no, Mindfulness my friend – is essential for YOU.
WHAT IS MINDFULNESS?
Mindfulness is a mental state that consists of being fully aware and present – you are therefore able to focus on what you are doing, how you are feeling and what is happening around you in that precise moment.
If you were to walk down a busy high street and then I asked the question “How many red objects did you see?” you probably wouldn’t be able to tell me. However, if I asked you the same question and got you to walk down the same high street again, you would have a better chance at answering because you would be more mindful and aware of your surroundings the second time.
This is exactly how mindfulness works and it can help us ultimately improve our mental wellbeing. The more aware we are, the more we are able to address situations and events with a rational point of view. Just as you need to eat and drink to nourish your body, your mind also needs to be nourished and mindfulness is vital for this reason.
“If you are depressed, you are living in the past.
If you are anxious, you are living in the future.
If you are at peace, you are living in the present.“ – Lao Tzu
HOW CAN I PRACTICE MINDFULNESS?
Meditation is how I integrate mindfulness within my daily life. Once I decided to make it a non negational part of my daily routine, I began to see significant changes in my overall well being and also circumstances in my life started to shift in positive ways. (I am now so into meditation that I use crystals to enhance its affects!)
When I first thought of meditation though, an image sprung to mind of wise buddhas sitting with their legs crossed, eyes shut while humming a tune, they knew exactly what they are doing and somehow managed to be the only people who successfully gained insight from it. But in actual fact, anyone is able to meditate.
Simply sit or lay comfortably and focus on your breathing, your mind may wonder but thats normal, just acknowledge any thoughts and then release them as you bring your attention back to your breath. Feel the cold air rushing into your nose, flowing down to your stomach and then gently releasing the breath back into the world.
Even if you are unable to find the time to sit down and practice, you can still be mindful in other ways. Whether that be on your commute to work, when you go for a toilet break, or even while you walk the dog – bring your focus to your breath, this is the best way to bring yourself into the present moment – I learnt this technique from a book I read called “Mindfulness” by Harvard Business Review, they provide practical steps to being mindful in every day life, with some proven research to back up their points! I read almost the entire book whilst I was on holiday last week.
A few other types of practicing mindfulness if you don’t fancy meditating include:
Mindful Eating – Instead of eating anything and everything you come into contact with (guilty!), mindful eating is learning to pay attention of the foods you are fuelling your body with. Many people lose/maintain their weight with this practice.
Yin Yoga – A type of yoga which is slow paced to hold poses for a longer period of time.
Body Scan Meditation – Bringing awareness to bodily sensations by scanning the body using your mind, this also helps to relieve any tension.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?
– Practicing Mindfulness for just 8 weeks has been proven to boost the immune system and the ability to fight off illnesses.
– Mindfulness can help to reduce depression and stress. It can also boost our self-esteem and overall happiness.
– Become less judgemental – we begin to be more mindful of others and this therefore enhances our social relationships.
– Reduces distraction and helps us to train the mind, this leads to better attention skills, memory and decision making.
– Research has been found that Mindfulness actually changes our brain and increases the areas that are linked to memory, emotion and learning.
– Enhances your intuition and reduces your emotional reactivity
Mindfulness has become a popular practice and you may have heard about it before. I think that it is an essential part of a happy and healthy lifestyle.
Do you practice mindfulness? What is your experience with it? If this is not apart of your daily routine yet do you think you would like to start? Please share your thoughts below!