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What is Mindfulness? It is a word that is thrown around a lot, but what exactly is Mindfulness and how does it work?
I don’t know about you, but my life seems busier than ever; work is hard, there are more things on my to-do list, and I also feel I have less downtime. While the internet and social media have positive aspects, I’m now in constant touch with my friends and family all over the world, and always feel I have to interact on all their posts.
Years ago we would meet up occasionally, and do all our catching up in one evening, over dinner with a bottle of wine. Now I know what they have for dinner every night, what their children and pets get up to, and what they wear to work! Is this constant connection really necessary, or is it actually just sucking up more and more time of our time, making us overstimulated, more anxious, and more depressed when our own lives don’t measure up?
Recently I have had thoughts of getting rid of my smartphone, as I find myself checking my Facebook in a queue while shopping or I WhatsApp my friend a stupid comment while I wait for someone, all really unnecessary stuff! I want to know if my life would be easier if I just lived each moment, practising mindfulness, instead of trying to fill it with constant nonsense.
I asked healer Jo Anderson some questions to help bring mindfulness into my life;
As a Spiritual Healer, I regularly practice meditation for focus and wellbeing. Mindfulness is taking this a step further. It’s paying attention to the present moment and learning to just ‘be’. This means becoming aware of all the small things that are happening to us right now within our mind, our body and our soul, and how we feel on a physical and emotional level.
In our busy lives, it’s easy to rush headlong into our everyday tasks without paying attention to ourselves, or indeed to our loved ones. When we ignore what is going on within us and around us, we can miss the important messages. What are our bodies trying to tell us? What is the chatter in our minds trying to say? We should take a moment to listen.
When we are mindful, we are more likely to pick up on the physical sensations and emotions that otherwise, we would ignore, or perhaps we have been pushing to the back of our thoughts to deal with later. This is not being mindful and is not helpful to us at all.
Mindfulness is Stillness
Mindfulness is stillness, taking a breath, stopping to smell the roses (I actually do this!) Take notice of colours, smells, and textures around you. If I take a walk, I am aware of everything – how the breeze moves the trees, how the river flows, the sound of birds, there are unlimited ways in which you can be mindful.
Take time to be appreciative of everything. Actively give thanks for the good things in your life, and you will find your outlook will become more positive.
How does it Work?
Mindfulness works by bringing us into a state of mind where we can see and feel more clearly. It may take some practice at first, but even in small bursts, we can feel the benefits.
By taking time to meditate or just slow down, breathe, and take note of the present moment, we can alleviate anxiety or stress.
In my opinion, mindfulness can help everybody. If the whole population would be mindful of themselves and others, and of our beautiful planet, things would be very peaceful indeed I think! But on an individual basis, mindfulness will help us to bring ourselves back into balance.
When we realise and can deal with what is going on inside us, we are then better able to cope with the physical problems and begin to heal.
As a Healer, I often find that after a few sessions the client has already begun to change aspects of their lives for the greater good, often because they have been given the chance to relax during the session and focus on their thoughts – to be mindful.
Mindfulness Exercises for Beginners
Tips to Get Started Practising Mindfulness
Sit down in a quiet room, focus on your breathing, or light a candle and focus on the flame.
Concentrate on your breath, making every breath deeper. Inhale for two counts, hold your breath for two counts, and exhale for two counts, pausing for two counts before repeating. Keep going until you feel calmer
Try alternate nostril breathing
Mentally scan through your body and note any areas of tension and try to release them. Unclench your jaw, relax your shoulders, relax your stomach, etc
When your mind wanders which it probably will just notice you’ve wandered off and try to bring yourself back again. This isn’t wrong or a reason to give up, it’s all about practise!
Reflect on why you may be feeling stressed, and be kind to yourself. Think of things you are grateful for today.
Being Mindful in everyday activities
I read recently, and have found this to be good advice, that if we are mindful of every little thing we do, then we may appreciate the moment more. For example, doing the dishes, not a job I have ever enjoyed, but I have started to give my full attention to the task so that I am able to find satisfaction in a job well done. Sounds silly I know, but you’ll be surprised what a difference it makes.
Try appreciating your morning shower, enjoy the sensation of the water on your skin, and the feeling of being cleansed. When you prepare and eat food, be mindful of the textures, colours, smells, and especially the taste – savour every mouthful!
Take a walk with no particular destination in mind. Don’t give yourself a time limit. Be aware and appreciate being in nature. It is so beneficial for your mind, body, and soul. Look up at the stars at night. Find beauty in the moon. How the sun feels on your face or the rain for that matter!
Be mindful of other people, I love to say good morning and exchange a smile with strangers and friends alike. You never know whose spirits you may have lifted and the knock-on effect it will have. Wouldn’t it be lovely if the whole world smiled at each other?
Mindfulness into the workplace
To bring mindfulness into the workplace, you need to be present in your thinking. Often at work, we try to multitask which is not productive. Single-tasking is acceptable. Bring your focus to one job at a time, giving it your full attention.
If your mind wanders to other things that you need to be doing, bring your thoughts back to what you are presently trying to achieve. Obviously, at work, we do not have time to sit for long periods and meditate. So at regular intervals (and perhaps set an alarm on your phone for this), stop, take a deep breath and take note of how you feel. What is going on within you and around you?
Stand up, stretch, or pop outside for a breath of fresh air. This brings you back into the present moment and rebalances your mind to continue with the task at hand.
Mindfulness with Meditation
Meditation goes a long way in helping you on the road to mindfulness. This is because it teaches you to relax and to concentrate on your thoughts and feelings, both mentally and physically.
It enables us to acknowledge what’s happening with us, then with practice to let these feelings go whilst taking note of your breath. Always bringing your focus back to your breathing when thoughts creep back in. There are no rules to mindfulness, it is about finding your own way to stay in the present and ground yourself.
Thank you so much Jo, I have learned a lot about mindfulness. I am definitely going to implement these tools in my life. I hope this inspires you all into your own journey to mindfulness.
Are you finding life more and more stressful? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
|Natalie Shirlaw is passionate about healthy living and writes posts about wellbeing. If you enjoyed this article, be sure to pin it or share it!|