I do not doubt that you’ve heard the word mindfulness many times - so many in fact that you could be forgiven for thinking that it was 'just another fad'.
But, that's not the case; its foundations are deep-rooted in eastern traditions and it has been practiced for thousands of years...
Jon Kabat Zinn, one of the biggest influencers in introducing mindfulness to the West defines it as: “Paying attention; On purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.”
Go back and read that again. Can you imagine if you could stop living on autopilot and start feeling more present in your day? You don't need anything special to get started; there's no classes or expensive equipment needed - it's free!...
What's even better is the holistic benefits of finding more of these moments in your day; here's just a few of the ways that it helps you:
• Lowers anxiety and stress levels
• Controls blood pressure
• Helps you to let go of your ego
• Builds feelings of gratitude
• Improves focus
• Cultivates spiritual growth
But, if you’re new to the idea of taking a more mindful approach to your days, where should you start? Here are a few things that work for me - try using one or two of them today...
1. TAKE A BREATH Sounds simple, doesn't it? But, stopping to take a few deep breaths brings us right into the present moment. Close your eyes while you breathe and follow each breath in and out of your body. Do this regularly throughout your day to help clear negativity, lift your mood and release tension.
2. LEARN TO FOCUS It’s been proven that our brains do not handle multiple tasks well and so let's stop wearing that 'multi-tasker' badge of honor and let yourself focus on one task at a time.
3. SLOW DOWN There's no need to do everything at high speed! It only leads to high-stress levels and more mistakes. Remember that slowing down doesn't necessarily mean getting less done either if you approach it the right way.
4. LET GO OF EMOTIONS I appreciate that this takes a bit of practice, well, a LOT in my case but I'm comfortable being a work in progress! I've found the key here is to recognize the emotion, acknowledge it without engaging and watch it pass by - I'm laughing while I write this because it sounds so much simpler than it is!
5. JUST STOP Can you find a moment to just stop? Sit for a moment and just be - you'll love it.
6. CONNECT WITH NATURE Get outside and feel the sun on your skin or the wind in your hair. There are so many ways to connect with nature but getting outside always does the trick for me.
7. EAT WELL Stop trying to eat on the move with a sandwich in one hand and your phone in the other. Give yourself some space around each meal to enjoy your food and rest, you'll be amazed how much more smoothly your day will run.
8. RE-SET BREAKS It's too easy to run around on autopilot, and before you know it lunchtime has rolled around and you have little recollection of your morning! Build a couple of re-set breaks into your day to check in with yourself and let go of any issues that are having a negative impact on your day.
9. RELEASE Listen out for the moments when judgment rears its head and remind yourself that it's simply a thought; not a fact. Learn not to act on the thoughts but just recognize them as 'judgments', acknowledge them and let them pass by.
10. CONNECT WITH YOUR SENSES Choose to experience a moment through one primary sense; stop and focus on everything that you can hear right now, close your eyes if you can and just listen. Try doing the same with your other senses too - it's a fun way to get in touch with them.