Mindfulness lets us absorb the richness of the moment instead of going through life with half of our attention on the past or future or our own mental chatter.
A few years ago, I came acrosss Mindfulness, a Buddhist practise. I thought that mindfulness, much like meditation was about clearing my mind completely and having no thoughts whatsoever.
They say that you’ve 60,000 thoughts a day. Well some days I reckon I’m up at 80,000 so how was I ever going to get from that to 0? I resigned myself to the fact that mediation maybe wasn’t for me.
I was missing the point.
It really came home to me on a mindfulness course I did and I experienced it for the first time in my life. I don’t know what it was that made me listen properly, to look at it a new way.
I got that meditation and mindfulness is not about calming your mind down, yes that comes as a result of it but it’s not the purpose of it. Mindfulness is just about noticing what’s happening in this moment.
How many times have you driven from A to B and not remembered how you got there? Frightening isn’t it! Our minds are so full of clutter that we miss so much of our life as we’re thinking about the future or the past, rarely living in the present.
Mindfulness helps us to connect with the present and it’s so so simple to do!
And that’s it!
When you’re mindful, you’re present, in the moment, still inside, whatever you’d like to call it. And when you’re in that space no negative emotion can exist. Fear and anxiety are based on what may happen in the future, worry is based on what might happen based on past experiences. When you’re in the present moment, these emotions can’t exist.
Don’t believe me?
Then try the exercise below, its so simple and when done consistently you’ll notice that you’re calmer, more able to deal with stress, happier and will have more energy for your life! I always say to my clients that its the consistent practise of the simple things that make the biggest impact on your life, and this WILL have an very positive impact on your life.
So how do you become mindful? Well one of the easiest ways of getting to this place, I find is to connect with your 5 senses.
It is very simple to do and it can be done by anyone.
You simply ask yourself 5 questions:
- What do I see?
- What do I feel?
- What do I hear?
- What do I smell?
- What do I taste?
By really engaging with your senses your mind has no option but to focus on the present tense, ie. the now.
An everyday example of how to use it when you’re eating:
- Pick a meal – breakfast, lunch or dinner it doesn’t matter.
- Turn off all distractions, ie the phone, the tv, put away newspapers and magazines.
- Sit down to eat.
- Acknowledge that your mind will wander.
- As you eat, tune into your senses. Ask yourself, “what do I see, hear, taste and smell” as I take each mouthful.
- When your mind wanders, under no circumstances give out to yourself, just say “ok my mind has wandered” and bring it again back to what do I feel, hear, see, smell, and taste.
- Just keep bringing your mind back to what you’re doing.
- And that’s it!!
You can do this with chores that you don’t like also. When I first read about this, I laughed! I thought nothing in the world could make me enjoy ironing. The sheer tedium of it and the never ending bundles of clothes to get though – I call it Mount Iron.
Well thankfully I was proved wrong and I now find it a more enjoyable experience – never would I have thought that I’d say that about ironing!!
So pick a chore or an everyday activity, for example, walking, driving, showering, running etc and start being mindful as you do it.
There are courses on mindfulness as well as a host of books. www.mindfulness.ie is a good website to have a look at if you wanted to look into this further.