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Mindfulness is such a buzz word at the moment, with it’s practices and benefits totally flooding the heath and wellness industry. A couple of months ago I decided to do a little research into it and, well…. to find out what it was exactly.
The oxford dictionary states that mindfulness is ‘the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something’. It also has a second meaning which was derived from Buddhism, and made a lot more sense to me. It states that mindfulness is ‘a mental state achieved by focusing ones’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations.’
I’ve tried really hard to make sense of the whole concept and this is what I’ve come up with. It is of course my interpretation of mindfulness.
- Mindfulness is an awareness that things just ‘are as they are’ in any present moment. There is nothing you can do to change them, so it’s best to just accept them. Thich Nhat Hanh, a famous Vietnamese Buddhist monk, explains that mindfulness is realising that our true home is right now. We cannot live in the future or the past, life is only available to be lived right now.
- You cannot argue with reality, because it will always win. Accepting that things are what they are in each present moment gives us permission to let go of our struggles with reality and to reach a state of mindfulness, peace and potentially, happiness.
- Mindfulness allows us to recognise the good in our current situation and to be happy with it. You don’t have to wait for something to happen to be happy, there are things around every single day that can make us happy. You just need to be in the present to see them.
- It is so easy for our minds to get caught up in worry, stress, regret, anger and so many other emotions that we’re often not able to just enjoy the current moment we are in. We can miss so much of our kids and our own lives by not being in the present and being mindful.
- Being mindful and accepting where you are in the present does not mean that you have to like or approve of it. Just by accepting where you are, allows so much more space in your mind for growth and change and to gain much more perspective of where you want to be.
- Mindfulness should not be hard or an effort, it should be enjoyed. Watching your child smile for the first time or admiring an amazing sunrise should require as much effort as mindfulness.
- Mindfulness can be done at any time of the day, in any situation and can really help to reduce stress and promote a feeling of well -being.
5 very simple ways to achieve mindfulness
- Set aside 5 to 10 minutes a day to achieve a state of mindfulness. Yep, that’s really all it takes, so allow yourself that time.
- Breathing. Just being aware of every single breath you take brings you immediately into the present moment. It’s very relaxing too. Breath in through your nose for a slow count of 5, and then out through for mouth for another slow count of five. You can do this any time and anywhere. Instead of cursing a red traffic light, just accept it and count your breaths while you wait. It’s amazing how doing this during a moment that is potentially stressful can actually calm you down. I get my kids to do this exercise ALL THE TIME, when they’re feeling anxious or stressed or even cranky, and the results are amazing.
- Put down your phone. Nowadays this is harder than it sounds. If you’re anything like me, then your phone is an extension of your arm. We wake up to it, go to bed with it and check it about a hundred times in-between. Setting aside a time where you put your phone away really helps to bring you back into the present moment to appreciate what is happening around you. It forces you to stop worrying or thinking about the past, the future or stuff that really has nothing to do with you or that you have no control over.
- Gratitude. Starting each morning by thinking of, and even writing down, 3 things that you are grateful for in your life right now, will help set you up with a positive mind frame for the entire day.
- Be aware of your body and your surroundings. Once you nail the breathing techniques, this one become a lot easier. Being aware of every single part of your body, even an itch on your left elbow, will help to bring your mind into the present. It’s a great way of relieving tension and stress or even discovering where your body holds tension and stress.
If you’re interested in taking mindfulness a little further, these are three great apps…….. Buddhify, headspace and smiling mind.
Mindfulness takes practise and patience but it’s effects on your daily happiness are amazing.
Do you practice mindfulness?
Has it helped you?
or do you think it’s a load of mumbo jumbo?