There is so much spouted around these days about mindfulness.
To the average Joanna it can seem quite overwhelming.
Which article to read, what advice to follow, and why should I bother in the first place?
It's just one more thing to remember!
So I am going to simplify this idea to what it can mean for people going about their every day lives,
and ways you can incorporate mindfulness into your life.
To me 'mindfulness' is, put as simply as can be:
NOTICING THE THINGS IN YOUR LIFE THAT BRING YOU JOY.
The best part about this is, we don't have to do anything extra...
because we are doing it already!
It's just about bringing your awareness and presence to everyday tasks and interactions.
I didn't learn about mindfulness through self-help books or YouTube videos,
I realise now that I was already doing it.
All you have to do is keep doing it, and be aware that you are doing it... so easy!
But WHY bother? I hear you ask!
Answer: BECAUSE IT FEELS GOOD!!
It feels good to notice the small things in life,
to feel your mind become clear as you truly appreciate something,
to have an interaction with someone and really FEEL how you feel with that person,
to bring joy and playfulness into your life with every thought and deed.
Here are 5 ways in which I practice mindfulness every day.
They are 5 actions which you (probably) do all the time anyway...
1 ~ Eat!
You already do this... I guarantee it:
You open your mouth, the saliva is dripping, anticipating that first yummy mouthful entering the hungry hole in your face.
And it tastes soooooo good! You savour every flavour, you maybe even close your eyes to be able to taste better.
Then your brain kicks in and starts making lists of things you have to do this afternoon, or you get distracted by the TV or someone talking to you,
and the taste sensation is forgotten.
But, not to worry!
Remember, you and your mind are two separate things:
you can observe your own mind thinking.
So, as you are eating, keep observing. Let your mind wonder, then bring it back again, no need to get annoyed with yourself for forgetting for a moment.
Practice and soon this will become second nature, and you may even find yourself getting through a whole meal savouring every bite.
Why do it? Why not?? Imagine if every mouthful tasted as good as (or even better than) the first one? Who wouldn't want that?
how can I make it easier? Turn off the TV! And maybe write the to-do list before you eat.
I already do this! What else? Do it when you are cooking too! Feel the texture, smell the aroma and have a little taste of each ingredient before it goes into the pot!
2 ~ Breathe!
Yesterday I was walking around town, thinking of all the things I had to do, feeling hot and hectic.
I walked past a church and decided to go in and sit down for a second.
Sitting in the silence, I closed my eyes and just observed my breath for a while.
No counting breaths, no 'in through the nose and out through the mouth', no technique to it:
only silently watching the breath.
My heart slowed, my body cooled and my mind stilled. Simple as that!
There are many de-stress tips and mindfulness techniques that will put the stress (pardon the pun) on breathing.
But you breathe constantly... all the time!!
So just take what you do already, and notice yourself doing it.
That's it people, that's the big secret!
Why do it? Taking a time out to notice how you are feeling and take stock of what is happening around you will add to your joy of being alive. Enjoy that feeling that this 'stress' is temporary, and you can make it go away simply by breathing!
How can I make it easier? If you have a chaotic lifestyle, or are simply forgetful, set an alarm on your phone to go off randomly throughout the day, reminding you to stop for a second and breathe.
I already do this! What else? As you are breathing, imagine inhaling light with each breath, and exhaling the stress or 'hectic-ness' out. You will feel a sense of calm and peace.
3 ~ Move!
Do you look up and around as you are walking? Or do you look at the floor?
Now, there are all sorts of tips and advice telling you to
'head up and look around'!
But what if you are having a bad day and don't want to smile at
Or you sincerely like looking at the floor?
Should you in that case forget to find the joy in life?
My point is it doesn't matter where you are looking, you can still be mindful and observing.
Notice everything around you.
Stop to smell the flower, stroke the cat, delight in something quirky on someone's house. Look for things to distract you from thinking! If you are a floor-starer, then notice random patterns on the pavement, dropped litter, flowers growing out of concrete. You can do this without even going outside: look for patterns around your house you never noticed before, or people watch out the window.
Why do it? It feels good to really be aware of where you are and what is around you.
It adds joy to your life when you notice something you haven't seen before.
How can I make it easier? Before you walk/ drive/ move, decide on a theme to look for during your journey. This could be different trees or flowers, graffiti, coloured windows or doors, people who smile at you: use your imagination!
I already do this! What else? Remember the things you notice that bring you joy and write them down. After a few days or weeks, review the list... is there something in particular that brings you joy? You may even begin to recognise a passion emerging!
4 ~ Feel!
I remember once hearing the question asked:
Have you ever felt the inside of your hand?
So now I ask this to you, dear reader.
For 10 seconds, stop reading this article and notice how the inside of your hand feels.
To me, it is warm and tingly. Can you feel the energy inside your hand?
Everything in this world is energy, inside us and outside us: there is no emptiness at all, everywhere is moving energy.
We become so detached from our own bodies that we have difficulty feeling our e-motions (energy in motion), which flow through our bodies.
So how do we practice 'feeling ourselves'?
The way to do this is easy, although it may take the most practice of all the things on this list.
(Or that could just be me, as I struggle with this sometimes!)
Ask yourself, always, how do I feel?
Again, this stuff is there, with us, every day.
All we are doing is bringing awareness to what already exists.
Why do this? The more you practice this, the more you will choose to bring things and people into your life that feel positive to you, rather than negative. Your mind, body and soul will rejoice!
How do I make it easier? Create! I find it excellent to WRITE whenever emotions get too heavy or confusing, this brings awareness to them quite nicely. You could draw a picture (even if you are not an artist), or sing (yes, even badly), dance, or do anything you can think of to allow that emotion to be expressed. This is only a tip, my answer should be: what do you feel will make it easier? For the answer is different for everyone in every situation.
I already do this! What else? Excellent! Teach it! Spread the word! The world would be a much better place if we all brought awareness to our emotions: imagine a world in which politicians made decisions based on what made them and the people they serve feel good? I mean, really good, as in mutually benefiting everyone involved. I want to live in a world of more emotion and less mind, please! Can you help me create it?
5 ~ Play!
Okay, that last one got a little deep, so let's liven things up for the last one on the list.
This is within all of us; and you know it!
Notice that feeling you get when that little child inside you wants to come out and play!
You know the one... that urge you get to climb the tree, or run into the sea, but you don't because your mind gets involved and thinks you shouldn't because you are wearing your work clothes. Or the song you are absent-mindedly singing, but then stop when you realise people can hear.
Little story for you: I was walking along singing the other day and some children heard me and they LOVED it! They were running after me saying 'what's your name?' and 'what are you singing about??' They were delighted to hear an 'adult' singing to herself!
You know you want to do these things,
so before your busy mind gets in the way: just do it!
Why do this? It's not a waste of time! That playful child is constantly learning and creating his or her reality. Create your life around playfulness and pay attention to how it feels!
How can I make it easier? Make this an extension of Mindfulness Way no 4: Feel! Notice when that 'playfulness' feeling arises inside you, what kind of things provoke that reaction? What is it that makes you want to let loose your inner child? Start putting intention into doing these things when it feels 'safe' to do so (e.g you have the 'correct' clothes on, or there is no one else around) ... and soon you will forget all about your self-doubts and embarrassment, and just be in the moment.
I already do this! What else? Spread the joy and bring play into the wider world. Stand on the street and give free hugs, put love notes on car windscreens, get your friends to have a tree climbing competition, start an art club. Let others see you expressing your inner child. And observe them: how do you think it makes them feel?
it is so effortless to bring joy into our lives
through mindfully eating, breathing, moving, feeling and playing,
those things we do (or want to do) all the time,
we can help ourselves feel good, and create a joyful life.
All day, every day.