“Today is the tomorrow we worried about yesterday.”
According to mindful.org Mindfulness is defined as “…the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.” and made popular in the West by Thich Nhat Hanh, Herbert Benson and Jon Kabat-Zinn. But what happens if you’re new to it or you’re experiencing a rough patch, how can Mindfulness really help you? Can it help you? Here’s what I’ve learned about Mindfulness since I started practicing it many years ago.
So how does it work?
Despite what you might think habits are formed in our unconscious mind through repetition. Now sometimes this can serve us, for example when we learn to walk as a baby. When we learned to ride a bicycle or drive a car. But unfortunately the repetition of other things don’t serve us, like a cycle of destructive relationships, low self-esteem, or drinking and smoking for instance.
How will Mindfulness help me?
By undertaking mindfulness practices you can vastly reduce stress and anxiety, help unpick those bad habits and create greater balance. So if we tune in and become more conscious of our habits and start establishing the good ones them more mindfully, we can seriously improve our overall wellbeing.
Is Meditation a Mindfulness Practice?
Yes mediation is a mindfulness practice because it gathers all of your disparate thoughts and brings you back to the present moment! You can find all sorts of mindful meditations online, particularly on YouTube, and there are a number of apps around too. So if you’re new to mindfulness here’s a simple mindfulness mediation to try when you have time to yourself when you won’t be disturbed;
- Sit on a straight-backed chair or cross-legged on the floor.
- Focus on an aspect of your breathing, such as the sensations of air flowing into your nostrils and out of your mouth, or your belly rising and falling as you inhale and exhale.
- Once you’ve narrowed your concentration in this way, begin to widen your focus. Become aware of sounds around you and sensations in your body.
- When thoughts pop into your head acknowledge them and let them go again without judging them as good or bad. If your mind starts to wander, return your focus to your breathing. Then expand your awareness again of the present moment again.
How often should I do this?
Start off by doing this exercise for 5 minutes and gradually build up to what you feel if comfortable for you. This exercise is particularly good if you’re feeling anxious, stressed or overwhelmed and is brilliant for decluttering your mind and helping you relax.
You may to prefer a guided mindfulness mediation to get yourself started, so why not try an app like Calm or Headspace. My personal favourite from YouTube Jason Stephenson. His healing meditation really helped me recover from major surgery a few years ago, so he’s always my go to!
What else can you tell me about mindfulness?
Of course mindfulness isn’t just sitting in a quiet room meditating all the live long day. But it is something that you can just as easily do it sitting at your desk at work or in the kitchen prepping supper. You could even sit out in the garden with your favourite beverage and cloud gaze because what mindfulness teaches us is to be present and the key it is bringing yourself into this moment. The here and now. Not fretting about what may happen tomorrow or what you didn’t do yesterday. It is about immersing yourself in this moment.