What does this mean to you? It might be a full meditation session with visualising, it could be yoga or deep breathing or it could be simply sitting quietly somewhere. Mindfulness is certainly a term we hear bandied around in modern times and we are often made to feel guilty if we don’t practice it. I hear people say things like “I need to take some time for myself” or “I wish I had more time to relax”. Is this what mindfulness means? I think it means different things to different people but I don’t think it has to be as difficult or time consuming as people may think. I also believe that people would be able to practice mindfulness more readily if they knew that stopping or completely clearing their mind is not necessary, they just need to quiet it for a bit.
Now, I don’t have the franchise on mindfulness but I do practice it every day, many times a day. I certainly don’t need to sit and meditate for a certain amount of time or even be quiet for that matter. All I need to do is focus on what is in front of me. Let me explain. When I am sitting in bed in the morning with my cup of tea, I take just a moment during that first sip of tea to really taste the tea and feel the warmth and be thankful for it. It doesn’t take any time out of my day or my routine but it begins the day with a positive thought. When I am outside I actually NOTICE things. It might be a pretty flower, or it might be how the sunlight reflects off a water droplet or it might be how the breeze is blowing the leaves on the trees but I take a moment to notice it, appreciate it and store it away so I can bring that memory to the front of my thoughts whenever I want it. There are so many different things that we can use our senses to experience every single day without it “taking time”. It can be as short or as long as you want it to be. Notice the sky, the ocean, the butterflies, light, colours, smells, REALLY feel the breeze on your skin, the sunshine, the rain on your face and your partner’s hands on you, watch a ladybug, close your eyes and breathe in the fresh air, savour the taste of the food you eat, watch the stars, stare at the moon, touch the leaves…the list is endless! Seriously, if you start with one thing every day it will become such a habit that you will be doing these things without realising it and your days will become brighter.
Another step towards mindfulness is being present. Living in the moment. This is one that many people struggle with and even I have to remind myself sometimes. Being present means literally enjoying the moment in which you are living right now. Not thinking about what your next step is or what you have to do when you get home or how you’re going to deal with the next issue when it arises but just keep your mind completely in the moment. It is impractical to try to do this every minute of every day; especially when you are at work, but during leisure time or time you are spending alone or with a loved one it is important to be present and appreciate where you are and what you’re doing. Don’t think about what you’re having for dinner or worrying about saying the ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ thing or anything else, just allow your mind, thoughts and feelings to exist in that moment and enjoy it. Sometimes people are so busy looking at what is ahead that they forget to see where they are. Retrieving the moment once it has passed is impossible so you need to enjoy it completely while it’s happening!
Finally, it is important to remember that if you aren’t used to being mindful it takes practice. Start with one thing every day and see how quickly it becomes a habit. Even if you practice mindfulness, you might need to prompt yourself from time to time. It’s very easy to forget how amazing everything is when you become caught up with your busy life but trust me when I tell you that it is worth becoming more mindful as it helps with your general wellbeing and happiness. You don’t need to sit with crossed legs and chant for hours, you just need to notice, be present and quiet your mind for long enough to appreciate and enjoy your amazing life!