“Mindfulness is awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgementally,” says Jon Kabat-Zinn.
We actually all practice mindfulness to some extent, naturally, even if we don’t feel we do. It happens in those times when you get so wrapped up in something and you lose all track of time. So just imagine what you could achieve by being more intentional. We can access this and make it part of our lives.
Whenever you bring awareness to what you’re directly experiencing, via your senses, or to your state of mind via your thoughts and emotions, you’re being mindful.
For most of us life is very busy and we women, especially, are very good at giving to everyone before ourselves, filling even more moments in our everyday. As a result we often rush through life without taking time to notice what is going on.
What can happen is that you find yourself very much in your head and you lose that mind/body connection. That’s exactly what happened to me when I burnt out and I had to consciously work to get it back again. We want to be aware of the sensations in our body and know what they mean. In that way if things are ‘off’, we can make changes to our behaviour and to our posture and start to get them back on track.
Mindfulness can help relieve stress, slow the pace, lower blood pressure, improve sleep and even reduce chronic pain. From a mental health perspective, it plays a role in the treatment of depression, substance abuse and eating disorders amongst many others.
It is through walking that I have accessed mindfulness best. In nature I have found it so much easier to connect with my senses and to ‘be’ in the moment. By practicing this regularly I have brought it into all aspects of my life. It is my informally, formal practice and, where possible, I take a walk every day. Without distractions I can focus and observe, and I know that the aim is to accept and not be judgemental. This has become easier with time.
The beauty of the seasons and the changing cycles means there is always something different to discover. I would suggest that if you are finding becoming mindful challenging that you take a walk and just be curious. Be open and enjoy everything that you come across.
In everyday life there are so many opportunities to try out simple mindful practices e.g. be really present when you are doing things like cleaning your teeth or washing your hands. Instead of doing something else at the same time too, just focus on the task in hand and connect with it. Bring all your senses to play to enhance this experience.
Start to take time to pause and breathe when the phone rings, a child shouts for you or someone comes to the door instead of rushing to answer it. Allow yourself not to pick up your phone when you hear the ping of a message coming through.
We want to be able to acknowledge feelings and thoughts and then let them go, without judging. We want to not get caught up in worries and thoughts that don’t serve us but to bring ourselves back to the present. We want to accept emotions whatever they may be, positive or negative and again let them go.
In time, you will be able to see patterns and be more aware of how you are reacting to others; to demands; to situations. From this more informed place you are then able to choose how to react.
You might find keeping a journal to record your experience helps and it will allow you to measure progress as months go by.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this and your experience.
If you are wondering where to start, get yourself onto our FREE Seven Days of Mindful Walking video course and let me guide you through.