Mindfulness is the new black. You can find the term used anywhere from a session with your psychologist to the Financial Review. So what’s all the fuss about? And what exactly is it? Mindfulness is the practice of maintaining a non-judgemental state and having complete awareness of your thoughts, emotions and/or experiences from moment to moment. Being armed with the ability to be more resilient to tough times, and having a whole new appreciation for the present builds confidence. And if confidence isn’t sexy, I don’t know what is. Sounds simple enough. But in a society that promotes multi-tasking and keeping busy, how do we orientate our full minds to be mindful?
Practice, practice and practice. Like anything else in life that we want to master, mindfulness needs to be practiced regularly. “But I’m too busy” sang a little voice in my head the first time I heard this. Luckily, it only takes as little as 5 minutes a day and creates more space in your life. More space? Brilliant! How? Mindfulness sharpens our focus and teaches us how to put things in perspective. Feelings, thoughts and emotions all pass and observing these objectively when you experience them teaches us to manage our reactivity. Which is fabulous if you’re prone to opening your mouth too quickly… Or bottling things then exploding because you haven’t got it out of your system…
There are a countless number of mindfulness practices out there but here are some simple ones you can try anywhere:
Check in with Yourself
Bring yourself into the present moment by observing any physical sensations, thoughts or emotions. Then start to identify what they are as if you observing them from a distance rather than you experiencing them. For example, try using language such as ‘that’s an anxious feeling’ rather than ‘I feel anxious’. Every time something comes up, observe, identify and then let it go.
Sit upright with your back straight but relaxed. For 5 minutes, focus your entire attention on your inhale and exhale, how air passes in and out of your nostrils, and how your abdomen rises and goes down with each breath. If thoughts start distracting you, gently acknowledge them and let them go. Come back to refocus on your breath.
When you’re having a meal, focus on your eating. Don’t read or watch TV at the same time. Pay attention to how the food looks, smells and tastes. You may find you enjoy your food more, and stop eating when you’re full instead of automatically finishing what’s on your plate.
Why mindfulness? Simply put, it makes you more awesome at life and life more awesome for you.