Mindfulness is something that many people may have heard about – it does seem to be the new buzzword in the counselling world. Mindfulness is simply about being “in the present moment”, living in the here and now if you like.
Essentially this means noticing what is happening for you right now – how you are feeling, what you are experiencing? So often we live our lives either in the past or in the future. We either can’t stop thinking about what has happened or we are worrying about what might happen. Either way we are missing out on what is happening right now.
People who practice mindfulness on a regular basis would say that they are better able to manage their emotions, they often say that they feel less stressed and less anxious. Practicing Mindfulness can help with your concentration levels and can improve your physical and mental health.
Listed below are some simple ways in which you can incorporate mindfulness activities into your everyday life. There are also Apps available such as Headspace and Calm – some come with a cost so check this out first – if you wish to investigate mindfulness further.
- Mindful walking. - really noticing what is around you as you walk. The sights, the smells, how it feels to be walking. This time of year you may notice the crunch of leaves underfoot, the cold wind on your face, or the sunlight dancing through the trees.
- Mindful eating – this involves really focusing on what you are eating and taking the time to enjoy it. Eating popcorn or sweets in the cinema is often mindless, you don’t really notice what you are doing until you put your hand in the bag and realise that the popcorn has finished. Mindful eating is the opposite. It is about being aware of every mouthful and enjoying it. If you do this you are likely to eat less. For example, you can eat one biscuit mindfully instead of half a packet of biscuits mindlessly.
- Mindful meditation – if you wanted to do some meditation you may wish to investigate some of the Apps which are available. But a simple way to practice mindfulness in meditation is to focus on your breathing. You can focus on the in-breath, the out-breath and the small pause between the two. Doing this for a few minutes each day may also have the added benefit of relaxing you. If your mind wanders, just acknowledge that and bring it back to focusing on your breathing – you will deal with whatever else came to your mind once you have finished the meditation.
- Some tips that may help if you want to develop the practice of Mindfulness:
- Pay attention to how you feel, what your thoughts are. You can practice this in different ways – for example noticing how the water feels when you wash up, noticing how certain activities leave you feeling.
- Take time to notice. For example, where is it that your thoughts wander to? If it is always to a particular situation it may be that you need to then deal with that – you can talk to a friend or family member or seek counselling.
- When choosing to be mindful, you will need to actively bring your mind back to the present if it wanders off. Focusing on your breath can help you to do this, because it gives you a focus that is in the present moment.
- Mindfulness is about accepting how you feel and what your thoughts are. It is not about judging them or being self-critical.
- Be kind to yourself. You are practicing, your mind will wander. That is OK. Just bring it back to your present moment and carry on.
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