There’s so much going around about mindfulness or being present but apart from reading a book on it and reading lots of blogs about it, I haven’t consciously practised it. So I decided the fourth week of my festive countdown would be to do just that.
It was quite hard at first to quieten the mind and force yourself to be present in the moment. Focussing on breathing was the best way to start, similarly to yoga, it calms you down and turns your attention to one thing.
I found it a relaxing exercise to do, as even when my mind was quite active, just taking 5 minutes out to be mindful, be conscious of the here and now, instilled a feeling of calmness. Not thinking of things on my to do list, or what to have for dinner later, or replying to a text message but simply listening to the surroundings, being aware of how I felt, listening to my breathing.
The easiest part is that you can do it pretty much wherever you are – at your desk, out for a walk, sat at home – it doesn’t matter, it’s just your time.
I guess in a way it’s like a mini-meditation and it also gives your mind a break from the daily grind, which often allows new ideas or thoughts to come through. I found that things would crop up which I didn’t even realise had been on my mind, giving me the freedom to explore things in my subconscious.
Like a lot of things, sometimes the hardest part is finding time to do it, but I found the mindfulness practice enjoyable and it’s helped me to deal with certain situations and gain perspective, which is helpful.
There are also studies which suggest mindfulness is good for your overall mental wellbeing, so taking 5-10 minutes a day to ‘check in’ with you mind and body is a very beneficial thing to do and it’s free!
Everyone has different approaches to mindfulness, which help them in different ways. Whether it’s focussing on breathing, doing a series of stretches, building awareness or taking 10 minutes for quiet meditation, there is not just one approach.
If you haven’t tried mindful meditation before, it’s good to check out some websites about it or watch a video, perhaps even download an app on your phone for a guided meditation. It’s also important to remember that mindfulness is simply heightened awareness and not a ‘cure’ for stress or other factors, so make sure that if there are any underlying stress points, they should be addressed first.