Mindfulness meditation is making its way into many aspects of our lives:-
From simple mindfulness meditations to
Mindfulness in the work place,
To mindfulness based cognitive therapy for depression and anxiety.
It is a fact that we can be mindful at any time.
And it has enormous benefits to our physical mental and emotional wellbeing
What is Mindfulness in plain English?
Mindfulness in plain English is the ability to stay in the present moment.
To Slow down and be focused to the task at hand, whether that be
- in an emergency situation
- or exercising
It really is as simple (?)and as difficult as that.
Simple you say???
How do we do that? ..just be in the present moment??
It all sounds like its a task for and ascended master.
Perhaps… But we call all master it.
It just takes practise like everything a else.
Difficult? -Well YES, it certainly can be in this modern day world .
We are bombarded with so many distractions …
- social media
- paying the bills
- and doing our best to survive
Speaking of survival
It often feels like we are chasing our tails trying to keep up doing our best paying the bills and being all things to all people
It’s rather INSANE ( crazy making) don’t you think??
And we really aren’t BE-ING we are DO-ING
And we are human beings NOT human doings
And as the saying goes…
We’re so busy getting there that we miss the journey.
#TRUTH .We Do miss the journey! Have you noticed how time flies and we are SO busy but its difficult at times to see what we have achieved and actually feel good about????
Why do we need to learn to be mindful?
Mindfulness allows our whole brain to function emotionally and logically at the same time instead of running on high cortisol levels and stress hormones.
Don’t get me started on the bad effect of those hormones ..well ok- they age us, make us fat -particularly around the middle, reduce our immune function, screw up our hormones, imbalance our brain chemicals, kill good bacteria in the gut, and the list goes on.
We are hard wired to need Mindfulness for our…and others’ Survival
We are Hard wired to need Mindfulness for survival
Mindfulness has been around since the dawn of time and we are hard wired to need mindfulness.
But in our modern day world we are often everywhere but in the present moment.
Consider The Hunter gatherer…
Hunter gatherers relied on mindfulness to survive .
A hunter going out to hunt for food relied upon his ability to be totally in the present moment .
To be still, focused and concentrating on his prey & ready to act in order to catch and kill it, so he and his family could eat and survive.
We are hardwired to use mindfulness to this very day for our survival.
We must be mindful in many everyday circumstances to ensure that we are safe
Driving a car is one such example
or Doing CPR and rescue
or Holding a new born babe
Or skilled surgery
One of the benefits of mindfulness techniques is the ability to self-soothe “in the moment”. This allows you to observe your thoughts and emotions without being caught up in them, and to tone down the stress response allowing clear and creative thinking.
Mindfulness really saves our lives
When we are mindful in our activities we are actually RELAXED in the activity and NOT STRESSED.
This reduces the rate at which we age and keeps us present to the task at hand.
This is literally life saving!!
It keeps us calmer, clearer, more grateful for small things, and ready to feel the pain and joy of life.
The only way out of life is through….
Mindfulness based cognitive therapy exercises.
To be feeling -crying angry ( not at others but acknowledging you are angry and letting it out by yelling punching a pillow or journaling), in grief, feeling fear ( and not running from the fear) IS MINDFULNESS, as long as we are expressing.
So much anxiety and depression comes from not allowing ourselves the EXPRESSION of our feelings.
They weigh us down in depression or we find ourselves constantly running from them in fear and anxiety.
Watch yourself when you are anxious next time or feeling depressed.. mostly we ere everywhere but present.
IF we simply came back to watching our breath we would find out WHY we are triggered into anxiety an move THROUGH it!
We have the capacity of metacognition, which means our ability to think about what we’re thinking about.
This is basically being the fly on the wall watching what we are thinking.
You are the Driver of your thoughts
Often we think we don’t have control over our thoughts
But when we watch as an observer of our thoughts we can change HOW we think and what we think
Exercises in doing Watching your thoughts.
Set an intention next time you are driving to ” watch your thoughts’. It’s actually quite mind blowing when we start to do this.
We automatically think things, or tell ourselves things, that in the beginning are MOSTLY un-helpful
Try it and see
Make sure you are on a route you know really well .
Don’t pick a day to do this when you are going somewhere new and have to concentrate on where you are going.
Watch what you are thinking, especially watch how we talk to ourselves
Often our inner voice is saying things like “Why did I do that it was stupid”
or “How could I do that, it was dumb”
“I’m and idiot”
I feel SO guilty
Blah Blah Blah
Self- talk is REALLY POWERFUL STUFF!
We have the ability to lift ourselves up …or put ourselves down
Try this experiment ;-
Sit quietly somewhere, close your eyes and tell yourself you’re and idiot and see what your body language does and how you actually feel.
Then do the opposite -Tell yourself your good, your great, you can do this and also note your body language and how you feel.
Doing this at first may cause some uncomfortableness ( cognitive dissonance), if you have been beating yourself up for a while .
But practise it and watch how it changes your overall energy and feelings and more importantly your CONFIDENCE
Other places to practise this is, under the shower
- in the garden and nature
- when washing up
- or anytime we are doing things with unconscious competence -which are things we’ve done over and over and are competent at -and don’t need to consciously think about what we are doing.
- Listening to others. Often we listen to reply. Practising listening to HEAR what the other is saying. Listen deeply and reflect it back to the person you are hearing. There is no greater gift we can give to another.
If you think you can …you’re right and If your think you cant you are also right
Of course if you struggle endlessly with negative self- talk, then please seek some counselling to find the root of the issue.
Most often what we are told as children becomes our inner voice when we are adults
However we need to work on both aspects i.e what we tell ourselves and the Cause
Other Mindfulness Exercises
Zen and the Art of Being In the moment
Have you ever watched a beautiful sunset that you could not take your eyes off and it took your breath away
You are captured and cannot take your eyes from it, lest you miss something and your need to see the brilliant colours and cloud formations and the unique way in which the fading sun hits them, with its rays, slowly changing ,each subtle change bringing awe and amazement…. until the sun sets and the vision is gone
This is a great place to start!
Thats’s mindfulness … the full appreciation with all of your senses, witnessing the miracle, beauty awe and magic of natures wondrous light show.
Remember how that feels? The emotion that it evokes? The wonder.?..
When you train your brain to be mindful, you’re actually remodeling the physical structure of your brain Creating space and creating time ( yes that is possible ) And rewiring the neurones ,stimulating the pleasure centre, calming your nervous system and replenishing your reserves.
When we are able to be present more often, our physical mental and spiritual health and wellbeing increases. We not only feel better but we age much more slowly our immune system is in tact, our intuitive ability increases. and we are happier.
Simple exercises in mindfulness.
Download this guided mindfulness video here
1. Watching the breath
Use the vision of a breath ball. Close your eyes and imagine a colourful ball in front of you
As you breath is see in your mind’s eye see the ball contracting and as you breath out see it expanding.
Set a timer and do this for 5 minutes and increase the time by a minute daily.
2. Go out in nature and find a plant or a flower or a tree that you like.
Observe it, see all the colours the formations in the petals or the leaves, the stamen if it is a flower or the leaves, their shapes and the different colours in a flower.
What shape is it? How does it smell? What do the stems and branches look like? What colours are in them? Just observe and witness how it makes you feel.
Close your eyes connect to your breath and scan your body from the top of your head and slowly down through your body.. Do not change what you see and feel. Just observe
4.Smell the roses
Take a daily walk – just 10 minutes is fine. And on your walk smell the air ,notice the plants, stop and smell the roses. Notice your posture, notice your breath and feel the ambience of the air.
5.Eating (yes eating!!)
Eating is a great way to be mindful
Often we just inhale our food
Next time, look at your food imagine how it will taste. Put it in your moth and taste it, savour the flavour notice the texture and enjoy!!
6.Tai Chi and Yoga are a mindfulness exercises
7.Journaling and writing out your feelings.
Be Kind to your mind
If your mind wanders (and it will), simply bring it back to the present moment and continue to observe.
As with everything, practise makes better.
Do it daily . Make the time.
Then reflect in a week or 10 days and observe how your overall wellbeing is-
How is your energy?
Do you feel more peaceful?
Can you sort through your problems more easily?
Are you sleeping better?
How do you feel?
We can be mindful in ANY moment
Even when things seem to be in chaos, just come back to your senses and simply observe.
Mindfulness allows us clarity and calmness in a world where everything feels fast paced and sometimes crazy
Be the eye of the storm and watch your wellbeing soar!
If you like to learn more and create a lasting habit in mindfulness and other meditation practises I highly recommend this Beginners course here
And If you would like to know more about mindfulness or have anything you would like to add, please comment below