The other day, Ben started a four week course in Mindfulness, and it got me thinking – how can I be more mindful? Is this something I should be bringing into my life also? After an extremely stressful 2016, will being more mindful help me?
The answer, quite simply is “Yes”.
So, what is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a way to think that helps us see clearly and pay attention to what is going on around us – not only visually, but emotionally, mentally and spiritually. It’s a process that helps us stop, take a breath and simply exist in a state of awareness.
Stress, anxiety, and the everyday pressures of life are a constant, and although some stressors can be eradicated from our life, not all can be, so mindfulness is a way of helping us deal with these stressors in a more calm and beneficial manner, being able to be more aware of the present and our surroundings, find enjoyment in the little things, all in order to improve our overall well-being.
Given how stressed I have been the past twelve months, I am sure you can understand why I am have brought mindfulness into my life in order to improve not only my mental health but my physical health given the two are so closely linked. If you’ve been as stressed as I have, or even mildly stressed or depressed, it’s definitely a new way of thinking that is worth your investigation.
How can We be Mindful?
The following are ways I am planning to incorporate mindfulness into my life on a daily or weekly basis.
Be Mindful The Moment You Wake Up
Put down the Smartphone, in fact don’t even pick it up. Each morning, just after you wake up but before you look at your phone, turn on the TV, or read the news, to focus on yourself. How do you feel? Are you rested, happy, relaxed? Or depressed, anxious, sad? Are there any cramps, or aches throughout your body?
Take ten minutes to explore internally (how you feel mind, body and soul), before exploring externally – how soft are your sheets, are there birds singing, is it a sunny or rainy day outside? Allow your awareness to slowly grow and expand from inside yourself, to the outside world.
Write Down Your Daily Goals
By putting pen to paper and making your goal tangible it will help you be mindful of this goal throughout the day. It doesn’t need to be a lofty goal, but something as simple as “Be Happy” or “Make Someone Laugh”. With this in mind throughout your day, you will be open to opportunities to make your goal a reality.
Wander – Physically and Mentally
Whether it’s before or after work, or during your lunch break, going for a walk with no destination in mind is a great way to incorporate mindfulness into your life. During this time you’re not focussed on a goal or destination, but simply able to take in everything around you, from people to your surroundings.
But wandering isn’t just physical, but also mental. If you are waiting in line, on a bus or train, or simply sitting and having a cup of tea, allow your mind to wander without train of thought or focus. Let your mind go wherever it wants to go during that time completely unhindered.
Enjoy Your Food
Too often we eat food too fast without actually savouring it or enjoying it – even if it’s your favourite sandwich or salad, it’s far too easy to scoff it down whilst in a rush and thus not really experiencing the sensations it has to offer. Eat slower, take smaller bites, enjoy each mouthful and explore each flavour before you take your next bite.
Remember to Breath
Breathing is an autonomous bodily function that occurs without us even thinking about it. But if we stop, focus on our breathing, we begin to breathe deeper in a more deliberate way which floods our body with oxygen which helps improve our mood. Take five minutes, several times a day to just stop, breathe and simply be.
Enjoy the Darkness and Silence
After you put your Smartphone down and turn off the TV, once you are in bed and surrounded by darkness, reflect externally to internally, the same way we started the morning but in reverse. How dark is it outside, are there any animals about, can you hear any cars? Are you warm beneath the covers, do you hurt, how do you feel? Bring yourself back into yourself before finally surrendering yourself to sleep.
These are the ways I am learning mindfulness and making it a part of not just my day but my life.
Have you tried Mindfulness? How have you made it part of your day?