Mindfulness is a hot topic right now and with good reason. It offers the perfect antidote to our busy 24/7 lifestyles.
Editor Jane Garton looks at how we can live more mindfully and reap the benefits for body, mind and soul.
“Put simply mindfulness means paying attention in the present moment without judgement to things as they are,” says mindfulness expert, Alex Newte Hardie: “It helps us connect to our lives as they are unfolding, rather than being distracted by thoughts of the past and worries about the future. It also helps improve our ability to recognise the, often unconscious, thoughts and emotions that drive our behaviour, enabling us to break old patterns,” she adds.
And this can have powerful effects. Simply learning to focus our energy and attention on one task at a time enables us not only to be more productive in our daily lives, but also, when the time comes, to switch off. A clutch of studies shows that mindfulness can ease a host of problems ranging from anxiety and stress to IBS.
The good news is that mindfulness is a skill we all can learn. And,
although its origins lie in eastern meditation, there’s no need to sign up to a yoga or meditation class or set aside special time – we can do it any time, any place, anywhere.
Here are some easy ways to bring mindfulness into your daily routine:
- Close your eyes and notice each breath coming in and out.
- If your mind starts to wander, gently bring it back to your breath.
- Observing your breathing will set you up for better awareness throughout the day making you less likely to react on autopilot to what life throws at you.
IN THE SHOWER
- Pay attention to the movements of your body as you turn on the shower.
- Feel the temperature of the water, notice the decision as to when it is just right to step in.
- Whatever your thoughts, notice and acknowledge them, and without judgement, bring your attention back to the here and now – the feel of the water, the patterns it makes, the sound and sensation of it on your skin.
- Notice the smell and consistency of the products you use.
ON YOUR COMMUTE
- As you walk to the station or bus stop, notice the changing sensations in your feet, legs and arms.
- Take in the colours, shapes, and movement of your surroundings.
- On the bus or train, take a short, mindful break. Notice the passing scenes outside the window as if it’s the first time you’ve seen them.
- Relax into feeling the rhythm and gentle sway of the train or bus.
WHILE MAKING A CUP OF TEA
- Tune into the sounds, the smells, the textures, the weight of the spoon, cup, kettle, the movement of your hand and arm as you stir.
- Once made, take in the colour of the brew, find somewhere quiet and take a moment to simply sit before sipping slowly.
STANDING IN A QUEUE
- Notice where your thoughts are without being drawn into them.
- Tune into any emotions present in your mind (just label them – do not judge) noticing any strong sensations they create in your body.
- Just breathe in and out noticing your emotions without trying to change them – simply allow them to be.
- This will help you de-stress and come out of ‘doing’ mode into ‘being’.