Simple Tips for Everyday Mindfulness: Unless you’ve been living under a rock then you couldn’t have failed to notice that the past couple of years have been all about mindfulness. Bookshelves full of the benefits of being present in the moment. It seems the art of remaining in the here and now in a self-aware, non-judgemental observational way is the way to go.
Seeing this as another positive step towards self-care. Without further ado, I set out on my quest to become a more mindful person. Well, I’ll let you in on a little secret here. This natural living, being in tune, at one with nature born again hippy totally sucked at mindful meditation. Furthermore, my inner ‘be perfect’ driver went completely into overdrive trying to master this particular skill and had a pretty hard time accepting that it just wasn’t going to happen. As much as I wished it otherwise the reality was that I was officially mindfully challenged!
Oh, but I did try, probably too hard. I sat there with my eyes close trying to focus on the in and out breath and ended up thinking about being mindful. As a result, my mini inner me would then pipe up that if I had to think about being mindful then obviously I wasn’t getting there.
I admit I have a tendency to be a bit of a mind racer, most of the time I’m the sort of person who is leaving before they’ve even arrived. I have spent a lot of my life with one eye on the future and although this is something I don’t do quite so much it would seem that mindful meditation was still just a step too far for me.
I’m not quite sure given my track record with this kind of meditation why I thought I’d have this one in the bag. I am a big fan of guided meditation and relaxation but left to my own devices without a guiding voice or relaxing sounds I struggle to meditate, my mind starts to compose shopping lists or becomes caught up in a mental version of the word association game. Even imaging a relaxing place proves a challenge, my indecisive mind can never decide whether a golden sandy beach is a place to be or a lush green forest, I even tried to compromise with a tropical forest-fringed beach but I just can’t ever seem to reach that Zen-like quality by myself.
Before throwing in the towel I made the decision that although mindful mediation wasn’t going to be my greatest strength I could still be more mindful in my every day living and still reap plenty of benefits. So if you are mindfully challenge like myself why not try to practice being more in the moment with some of the following simple tips for mindfulness.
A mindful morning
When you awake give yourself a ‘me’ moment. Allow yourself to just lie awake and follow your breath. Check- in with yourself as to how you are feeling. Try not immediately let your focus drift to the 101 things you have to do that day or check out what people are doing on Facebook at 7 am. Sit for a few minutes with your morning cuppa, yes wake up and smell the coffee! Really savour the effect it has on your senses and mood before you check the news, emails or your daily schedule.
Work on bringing a little mindfulness into your everyday routines. When your showering, brushing your teeth or eating your breakfast practice tuning in. Focus on the sounds of the running water, how the hot water feels and the smell of your soap. The texture of your breakfast.Try not to be distracted by your bed hair or caught up in any perceived blemishes in the mirror.
Take it outside
Next time you go out for a walk or even when you’re out shopping focus on your surroundings and take in the detail as you walk along. Tune into the moment by noticing the small things that are often overlooked. If out in nature notice the different shades of green. How the breeze feels on your skin. Become aware of the flowers and plants growing in the hedgerow and the sounds of birds.
When out in public notice the people around you. Be mindful of where you place your feet on the pavement, the smells and the sound that surround you. Try not to make any judgement about anything you see or feel. Unless of course, it is to judge the speed cars before stepping out in the road, mindfulness isn’t daydreaming ya know!
Where is your mind?
If you are anything like me you may spend a lot of mind time somewhere in the future imaging this or trying to plan that. Try to spend a period of time in the present. Make a mental note of where your thoughts are and try to bring them back into the here and now. Focus on how you are feeling in that moment not what you need to pick up from the supermarket later.
Often our bodies and minds are on autopilot. They carry out actions and functions that barely make a ripple in the thought process. Practice spending 20 minutes focusing on your body’s movements. Take note of any areas of tension and how your body is feeling rather than what it might look like. No thoughts of ‘does my bum look big in this’ please!
Get your creative on
You may also have noticed the plethora of adult colouring books out there- No Hugh Hefner hasn’t launched a new Playboy line. I’m talking about one of the many beautifully illustrated colouring books. Grab yourself a set of pens and take and lose yourself in the moment. Just 15 mins of colouring intricate patterns keeps the mind focus and in the moment. If colouring in is not your thing anything creative that requires your full attention. Chose something that keeps you focused on the task at hand.
Lose yourself in music. Let your mind connect with the sounds and switch off from everything else that is going on around you. Feel the music and allow it to flow through you. If the mood takes you then dance but keeps your mind on the music. Focus on the movement of your body, don’t let your mind wander to the Ibiza foam parties of your youth.
You can read more about the benefits of mindfulness here.
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