Mindfulness is one of the most powerful things we can do to reduce stress. We’re so frequently on auto-pilot that we’ve become accustomed to the noise in our minds. With mindfulness however, we can learn to turn that down. Instantly, this creates space for creativity, joy and happiness. Imagine you’re trying to work. The TV is blaring in the background, the kids and their friends are playing noisily and the neighbour are having an argument next door – it would feel a whole lot harder to concentrate, right? When we tap into mindfulness, we have the ability to tune all that out and notice the internal peace and quiet that’s always there, behind the noise. The sense of relief is palpable.
What is mindfulness?
To put it simply, mindfulness is being aware. It’s the act of listening to your body, observing your thoughts and allowing and accepting whatever is happening in the moment. It’s the beautiful art of being present. We all have the capacity for mindfulness, yet it’s a challenge when we’ve become so conditioned to noise.
What are the benefits of mindfulness?
Mindfulness promotes decreased stress, faster ability to heal from illness and accelerated recovery times. This in turn means higher brain functioning, lowered blood pressure and heart rate, lower anxiety levels and an increase in clarity and focus. Not only does it help with general health, it reduces work-related stress and burnout. With awareness, we can sense when we need to make a change in our mental and physical world, and change it. I know at this point we might be thinking ‘this is so far-fetched, we’ll never be able to quiet our mind’, but with consistent small changes it is totally an achievable practice. In fact, it should be the next goal we all intend to tick off!
Why do I need it?
Wealth, success, relationships, family, career all mean nothing if we can’t first find mindfulness. We could have the most beautiful home, be earning millions of dollars, have a beautiful partner and the most exciting career, yet without mindfulness we could still feel mountains of stress. A million dollars could be sitting in our bank account, yet we would be worried about losing it. Our partner could be treating us like we’re royalty, yet we’re angry because they left their dishes out. We could have the most ideal career for us, yet we’re looking at our colleague thinking ‘they’ve got it all’.
If we don’t have control over our minds, even the most perfect situation could seem dire.
If you’re wanting to feel content, happy and achieve your goals with ease then mindfulness is the golden ticket. Take a look at your life in this exact moment. You’re sitting or standing, reading this article on a computer screen, breathing. And that is all. You are not eating your lunch you’ve thought about for the last 5 minutes, neither are you stood in-front of a group of people presenting. You are simply reading and breathing. At every given time, you can simply practice the art of being present and all perception goes out the window until you’re left with black and white reality.
With this skill you can increase your focus and productivity. In turn you gain more clarity which encourages awareness of your next steps. From this you can expect financial abundance, a fulfilling and creative career and loving relationships.
How can I practice it?
There are so many ways you can practice mindfulness, from sitting and simply listening to bringing your focus to what you’re doing. From my experience, sitting and practicing mindfulness is the most challenging way to start. We’re encouraged to relax our body and listen to our breath. When thoughts arise we’re told to let them go and bring ourselves back to how our body feels. From experience, this leads to frustration as we judge ourselves for following thoughts, doubt our abilities when we fidget and move and end up walking away feeling more stressed than we were before!
Sitting in mindfulness is a practice to be attempted once you’re comfortable with it, but for now we’re going to try straight-forward ways you can integrate it into your daily routine. From teeth brushing to a gentle yoga practice, we’ll make mindfulness an accessible and achievable practice!
Mindful yoga practice
Sit and place your hands on your head, then heart, then belly. Moving with each breath. Option to repeat in your mind:
I am capable
I am loved
As you stand with your eyes closed notice how your feet feel on the floor. Notice how your hands feel as they touch, the warmth and the pressure. Notice the gentle sway of your body. Notice the sounds around you.
This is a fun one, place your hands on your face as I do, covering each sense (except your nose because you need to breathe…) and make a hmmmm noise like a bee! The gentle vibration and noise is beautifully calming and stops any thoughts from trying to get in.
Get your imagination going with this one. Imagine your hands fill with water, as you twist and reach, the water drops from one hand, across your body and into the other hand that you scoop up and swap over. The visualisation is gorgeously relaxing.
Other easy ways to practice mindfulness
Mindful teeth brushing
Every time you brush your teeth, notice the sound of it. Notice the smell. Notice how the brush feels against your teeth and how the brush feels in your hands. When a thought pops up, say hello to it and then bring your focus back to your senses. It’s inevitable thoughts will arise, and it’s often every second when we start a mindful practice! When they do, see them float away like clouds and bring yourself back to your senses
This is probably the most common time we think and think about anything and everything but showering! It’s as if we switch an auto-pilot mode on when we step through the shower doors. Next time you get in, deliberately avoid that mental switch and notice the noise of your mind disappear. Notice the temperature of the water on your skin. Notice the smell of your shampoo and how it feels to massage your head. Each and every time your mind wanders to anything that isn’t happening in the shower, have a little chuckle at your monkey mind and bring yourself back to your senses.
As you’re driving from A to B, rather than thinking about what you’re driving to, or driving from, bring your attention to the vibrations in your car. Notice the music playing, and the noises around you. The feeling of moving in your vehicle. Notice the person smiling you just drove past.
You can do this with all things in life! These are simply great little daily things we do that we so often divert our attention from.
Once you have a regular practice going, be prepared for peace, happiness and that spark back in your life as soon as you decide to embark on your mindfulness journey.