- Mental Health
Tips to help you achieve mindfulness
Mindfulness, so says the dictionary, is the ‘state or quality of being mindful or aware of something’. This is a good start, but the second definition helps us more; it is ‘a technique in which one focuses one’s full attention only on the present...’
That is exactly what mindfulness is. It’s the act of living in the here and now, not concerning yourself with the future (which we can’t know) or the past (which, whether good or bad, is over).
It may sound simple, but actually being mindful is a harder task than you might think, especially when we’re all so busy. If you like the idea but don’t know where to start, read on for some useful tips.
Gratitude is a great way to be more mindful. Make it your routine to be grateful for at least one thing (and ideally five things) every single day. Even if you have a terrible day, you need to look for the thing that makes you feel glad to have lived it. It could be a family member or pet, a good dinner, the fact that the sun was shining, or anything else. Big or small, no matter what, finding your gratitude point can help turn a negative into a positive.
Try being grateful as soon as you wake up and just before going to sleep. This will make you think of the present and will help you to stop worrying about everything else.
Yoga is an amazing mindfulness tool. When you are concentrating on your yoga poses, you won’t be thinking of the argument you had with a loved one, or the deadline that is looming at work. You won’t be worrying about whether or not the house is clean or that embarrassing thing you did way back when. Instead, your mind will be clear of everything except the one thing – the one relaxation, calming thing – that you are doing right that second; yoga.
Good mindfulness meditation can reduce your stress levels, make you feel calmer and happier, and even lower your blood pressure. All of this combined will make you a much more centred and positive person.
Meditation isn’t something that comes naturally to everyone, especially those who have extremely busy lives. Yet taking just 10 minutes out of every day is enough to re-set and recharge, and be mindful of everything you are doing.
Start by lying down in a quiet, ideally darkened, room and focusing on your breathing. Deeps breaths in and out is the beginning of any meditation session, and even if this is as far as you go to begin with, you will soon feel the benefits. The next step is to clear your mind, and this is the difficult part. It may take a few goes before you can really do this, but it is worth persevering as the benefits are impressive.
Increase Your Awareness
Mindfulness, as we’ve said, is the practice of being ‘in the moment’. This means taking note and being completely aware of everything that is happening around you. Initially you will need to think about this and make a conscious effort to be aware of the smallest of things, but the more you do it, the easier and more automatic it will become. Don’t, however, let it become so automatic that you stop noticing; the point is that you take note and enjoy.
So what kinds of things could you look at and engage with (using as many senses as possible) to become more aware of your surroundings? Examples include:
- Literally stopping to smell the roses (or any other flowers you might come across)
- Watching the clouds moving (and perhaps making shapes out of them)
- Feeling the warmth of a cup of coffee
- Eating slowly and relishing the taste
- Interacting with an animal
- Give yourself a hug
And plenty more besides. Every time you taste, touch, smell, hear, or see something, think of why it is wonderful. Think of what it means. Mindfulness will follow.
Doing nothing is anathema to many people, but when it comes to mindfulness it is something that can help immensely. One way to do it is to just go to a park, sit on a bench, and watch the people go by. Your mind will calm and you will feel relaxed and at peace.
Observing other people is a great way to be mindful. ‘People watching’ can help you to start thinking of all kinds of mindful things. Spot one person and imagine what they might be like, what their hobbies are, and where they are going. You will soon forget all about your troubles and enjoy doing nothing.
https://labspa.co.uk (Yoga classes and mindfulness tool)
https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/basics/mindfulness (Science based and psychological research)