“Mindfulness” seems to be a buzz word in the Western world in the last decade. Courses, CDs, Apps, books and workshops on the topic are popping up everywhere. Where did it come from and what does it mean?
Traditionally it is a Buddhist practice, used for the journey of self-discovery and enlightenment. It is the practice of bringing your attention to the present moment, to exactly where you are right this moment, here and now. It seems quite simply, why do we find it so difficult to focus? Perhaps we were never aware of this concept or maybe we are so distracted in life, it really is a struggle to find time and space and clarity to focus.
Mindfulness benefits our overall wellbeing but especially our mental health. We look after our bodies, why should we ignore out minds? Practicing Mindfulness will reduce stress, anxiety and it will benefit all areas of your life as you begin to become more aware, more focused and more present.
Mindfulness is a moment to moment awareness of thoughts, emotions and sensations. Allowing thoughts, emotions and sensations to come and go, without judgement or the need to do anything with them. Just become aware and allow them to drift passed.
Simply by becoming aware of your breath, you are practicing Mindfulness. It is the perfect way to practice Meditation or Mindfulness. Our breath is always present and each inhale and exhale brings us right to the present moment, the exact place where we want to be, the only place where life exists! We live in a hive of thoughts in our head, jumping from past to future, but by bringing your attention to your breath, you are coming into the present moment. Practice slow deep smooth breaths in and out and notice the sensations in your body. You can also count your breath, inhale for 5, exhale for 5. Best of all, you can practice this anywhere.
How often do we rush a meal, swallow food without even chewing or tasting it. Practice with the next meal or piece of food you eat. Pick something delicious but nourishing and become engaged with the food. Think about its origins and its nutritional value. Small the food , feel it, nibble tiny bits and close your eyes and savour each taste. Chew it slowly and even swallow more mindfully. Bring new life, love, energy and inspiration into your day by eating more mindfully. Your whole world could change!
I think we are all guilty of using our phones or watching tv or listening to something on the radio as we talk to someone. It is quite sad that we can`t be fully present for one another. Actually it can destroy relationships. The next time you are in a conversation with a friend, try to be fully present, listen to what they are saying, absorb their words. Take a moment to feel compassion or empathy for what they have just said and then respond with a thoughtful question or comforting words. Be fully present with who you are with and enjoy their company.
The next time you visit the beach or go for a walk or even go outside your house, notice what is around you. Take time to look and listen and engage your senses. Notice the sights, the sounds, the smells, the feel of the world as you move through it. Perhaps you will find a beautiful brightly coloured leaf and just appreciate its beauty or watch a bird and wonder at its creation. Life is happening all around us, we just need to become aware of it.
Oh yeah! This has to be my favourite one! Ever feel a little stale or stagnant on the mat? Not feeling inspired with your practice and need some new energy? Switch up your practice by switching your mindset. Slow right down, become completely engaged in your practice. Move super slowly through your Sun Salutations, like you are moving in slow motion, linking breath and movement. Notice things you might otherwise skip past. Take time to go inward and notice body sensations that you may not have been aware of. Instead of planting your hands and feet on the ground, place them down gently with love and grace.
‘Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.’ Thich Nhat Hanh