If you thought mindfulness was for only the most spiritually liberated, think again.
This traditional meditation practice has rustled up a storm recently amongst those seeking respite from the everyday pandemonium modern life entails. Over the last few years mindfulness has gained momentum with organisations including Google, the Home Office, Transport For London, and the US Army offering in-house mindfulness training for employees and celebrities such as Katy Perry, Goldie Hawn and, reportedly, Bill Clinton reaping its benefits.
So what is mindfulness, and what’s all the fuss about? Mindfulness centres around distancing yourself from the stress of modern living by gaining control of your thoughts, feelings and sensations and focusing on living in the moment. One study found that people spend almost 47% of their waking hours thinking about something other than what they’re doing, which typically leads to an unhappy mind. By consciously paying attention to the present, you can avoid peripheral thoughts, emotions and anxiety, and better manage yourself. Practiced regularly, mindfulness can lift your mood, reduce stress levels, aid concentration, and clinical trials have shown that Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) can significantly help those suffering with depression.
So how is it done?
Relax – you don’t need to surrender yourself to peace, love and incense sticks just yet. You can practice mindfulness almost anywhere and at any time within your busy schedule by consciously switching off your brains autopilot and focusing on the present. You can incorporate mindfulness into daily activities such as brushing your teeth, washing the dishes or having a shower. Try and hone in on your sensory awareness and absorb yourself in the moment. Ideally, however, you will sit somewhere quiet and focus on slow, deep-belly breathing whilst paying attention to your body and training your mind to relax. If your mind wanders, bring attention back to your breathing. If you need help, there are multiple courses available on line as well as apps you can download.
5 Top Mindfulness Tips
- Take time out where you can simply be. Don’t feel the need to constantly ‘do’.
- Take a few minutes to concentrate on the flow of your breathing. The feeling of the slow rise and fall of your stomach.
- Tune into your senses e.g. when you are having a shower, notice the texture of the water and how it feels. Focus less on the goal and savour the present.
- Take time to understand your thoughts, whilst knowing that you don’t need to react to them or believe them.
- Take note of where you tend to go into autopilot e.g. driving, surfing the web, and practice bringing more awareness to that action.