“If you are facing in the right direction all you need to do is keep on walking” Buddha
The last eighteen months have been very stressful for us all. Who would have anticipated two years ago that we would find ourselves living through a worldwide pandemic and the life we took for granted would change so much? We have all been exposed to fear, uncertainty, and endless feeds of bad news on a daily basis. This has caused upheaval in our lives leading to stress, anxiety, and depression in some people. Practicing mindfulness can help us break out of the endless negative stories our minds tell us. It can help us to stay focused and deal with life’s challenges. It can bring peace and calm into our lives and lead to mental and physical wellness.
What is Mindfulness?
So, what is mindfulness? John Kabat Zinn one of the leading figures in the modern mindfulness movement describes mindfulness as “the awareness that arises from paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally”
Why practice mindfulness?
When we practice mindfulness and pay attention to the present moment, we begin to live more fully in the present. We are less likely to have negative thoughts about the past and the future. Have you thought that you would like to practice mindfulness meditation, but you simply cannot find the time in your busy day to sit down and meditate? The good news is that you can still bring mindfulness into your day without having to sit down and meditate.
Here are five ways you can practice mindfulness during your busy day.
1 Take a breath and slow down
Are you aware of how you are breathing moment to moment? Are you breathing rapidly? Is your breathing shallow? Reset your breathing by noting to yourself that you are breathing in and breathing out. Remind yourself to breath slowly and deliberately. Try breathing in to the count of four, holding your breath to the count of seven and breathing out forcefully through your mouth to the count of eight. This has an incredibly calming effect on the body and mind.
- Take mindful breaks during everyday tasks
Did you know that you can practice mindfulness when you are doing everyday tasks? All you have to do is to become aware of what you are doing in the moment. It is as simple as that. Become aware of every step in the task you are doing anything from cleaning the cooker to cooking a meal to gardening.
- Practice mindful walking and sitting.
Pay attention to your body when exercising or at rest. If you are exercising tune into the movements of your body. If you are out walking become aware of the sensation of walking. Focus on the feeling of the soles of the feet on the ground and each movement your body makes as you walk. Tune in to your surroundings. Notice the trees, the clouds in the sky and the wind in your hair. When you are sitting become aware of the contact between your body and the chair. The more you practice this the more you will benefit from these mindful moments.
- Practice Mindful Eating
Have you ever had the experience of eating a meal and not being aware fully of what you are eating or how you are eating? So many of us sit down to eat while watching television or listening to the radio or playing with our phone. If you eat mindlessly, you will eat more, and your digestion will suffer. The next time you sit down to eat be aware of how you eat. Do you eat fast or slow? Do you chew your food properly or do you just bolt it down so you can get on to the next thing?
- Take a break from your phone
Have you ever found yourself mindlessly scrolling through your phone particularly in the evening and at night? Do you have problems sleeping? Park your phone and take a break from it before bedtime. Observe what happens when you do this. You may find this uncomfortable at first, but you can fill that space with a mindful break or mindful breathing. You will reap the benefits in a restful sleep.
I hope these simple tips help you to bring mindfulness into your daily life. Doing this will help you feel more positive, and more in charge of what you are thinking and doing. If you feel you would like to give more time to sitting mindfulness meditation, you could use an App such as Headspace, Insight Timer or YouTube. If you feel anxious, depressed, or stressed and it is having a significant impact on your life counselling and psychotherapy can help.