Updated: Apr 2, 2021
Let’s start with “what is mindfulness?”
Mindfulness is a way of training your mind to focus on whatever is happening in the present moment. It can be thought of as paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, free from distraction or judgement. Being fully engaged with whatever you are doing at that moment. It is a state of awareness, a presence of mind.
How often do you find yourself getting to your destination and cannot remember a simple function like turning the cooker off? How often are you really present when you drop your child off at the school gates and then rushing because you are late for that important meeting. We tend to live so much on autopilot that it can feel as though our own minds and the thoughts that come out to us are random. We often miss the moments that actually matter. Mindfulness teaches us how not to let random thinking/autopilot activities swamp our daily lives, but to observe it and then regain control over our own minds and the activities of the day.
With this in mind, you can begin to practice mindfulness at any point. Brushing your teeth, making your coffee or tea, on your morning commute or even at your desk in your work space. You get the picture.
To anchor yourself back to the present moment you can ask yourself 2 important questions;
1. Where are you? HERE
2. What time is it? NOW
By asking yourself these simple questions at random moments in the day you are beginning to live a life of mindfulness and the benefits are plentiful. Increased concentration, improved psychological and physical wellbeing, stress reduction, relief from anxiety and depression, enhance coping with difficult situations and increased feelings of happiness, positivity and contentment.
How to practice mindfulness
Taking these steps which can be practiced at any time of day, no matter what you are doing, is the perfect tool for when you feel stressed, overwhelmed or agitated. It will take your mind away from negative thoughts and back into the present moment.
1. Immediately after you realise you are feeling anxious, lost in your thoughts, stressed, simply stop what you’re doing and bring your attention to your breath. Close your eyes and take deep breaths for a cycle of counts. Breathe in for a count of four, hold for a count of four, breathe out for a count of four and hold for a count of 4. Repeat as many times as necessary.
2. Now open your eyes and notice 5 things you see. Really look at take notice of the intricate details of the object, person or even animal.
3. Now open your ears and notice 5 things you can hear. Again, include details here. Take time to focus and fully listen to the quality of the different sounds.
4. Finally notice 5 things you can feel. These can be on the inside or outside of your body. You may be able to feel the coolness of the breath entering body, and the warmth as it exits your body. You could feel the fabric of your socks, or the surface you are sitting on. Pay attention to how these things feel to you.
By concentration of the mind on the things you can see, hear and feel in the present moment you are cultivating a crucial point of awareness. This is actually the essence of mindfulness. After practising this exercise you should find that your mind becomes a little calmer and quieter.
Getting in the habit of becoming silent returning back to your source, you create space to listen to your inner voice and allow it to be heard. Remember to trust yourself. Your intuition and abilities are the natural building blocks for your life in the here and now. Under pressure or in a crisis, we act instinctively. Let these instincts have a role in whatever you undertake or decide in your daily activities.
Mindfulness cannot happen in the future. It can only happen in the here and now. Even as you are reading this article and your mind starts to wander off to the next task, you can bring it back to the here and now by tuning in to your breath, or asking yourself those 2 all important questions above. As you continue to bring your mind back to the breath, you will find that you gradually stop labelling events and thoughts as pleasant or unpleasant, positive or negative. You will find a way of observing them, non-judgementally and moving on. This is where your power lies.
You are on this journey through life and you have plans. What you want your life to look like, how many children you want to have, what career you want, the kind of house you want to live in etc. These are all aspirations and it’s great to have big dreams. But remember, the only thing that is ultimately real about your journey is the step you are taking in this moment. So to get to your goal, what do you have to do in this moment to achieve it? You cannot let your mind live in the past or the future for you. This is actually counter intuitive.
You cannot beat your own power source, so get connected to it, create from the inner realm of the unknown and let your life unfold moment by moment and stay present so you don’t miss any of it.
Every situation in life is temporary. So, when life is good, make sure you enjoy it and receive it fully. And when life is not so good, remember that it will not last forever and better days are on the way. Let the struggles you encounter help build resilience and character. But remember to stay present through all these experiences.
Awareness allows us to embrace life, free from distraction, at ease with our thoughts.
“If you try to calm the mind, it only makes it worse, but over time it does calm and when it does, there’s room to hear more subtle things – that’s when your intuition starts to blossom and you start to see things more clearly and be in the present more. Your mind just slows down, and you see a tremendous expanse in the moment. You see so much more than you could see before. It’s a discipline, you have to practice it.”
Focus – slow down – destress and enjoy the journey of life in these moments that unfold
- Becoming Supernatural – Dr Joe Dispneza
- Wherever you go there you are – Jon Kabat Zinn
- Headspace app
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