Often clients ask me whether they should practice mindfulness or if I have any information about mindfulness. They’ve heard the buzz word but are unsure what mindfulness is and if it would help them make positive changes in their life. Well, the good news is that anyone can give mindfulness a try. It takes practice but it is achievable.
This post will briefly look at mindfulness. It will give 5 easy steps to take and also helpful websites and books.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is being present in the moment (with both your mind and body) and being aware of where you are and what you are doing. In other words you focus your mind on yourself. You look to see what is happening around you and focus on what you are doing.
Often clients talk about their minds being full. Their minds are full with thoughts of what is happening in their lives or worrying about different things. This can lead to a feeling of being overwhelmed or anxious.
Mindfulness helps you take time out of these feelings and intrusive thoughts. When you practice it, if you find that your starting to drift away to obsessive thoughts, try bringing yourself back to the moment .
Often mindfulness can be hard to define. Look it up on google – you will find many different variations of defining it. The best way of knowing what mindfulness is to try the steps below. Not just for once. Try 1, 2 or all of the steps for 5 minutes every day for at least 2 weeks. See if you notice a difference.
6 Practical steps to Mindfulness
Take a few moments to notice your breath, slow the rhythm (do not force it) and feel it entering your nostrils, notice its temperature, the sensations as the air passes down your throat and lifts your chests wall and belly, then your chest and belly falling again and the breath passing out, again noticing the temperature.
This is an easy and I personally find the best way to practice mindfulness. Mindful walking is a form of mindful movement. It uses the everyday activity of walking as a mindfulness practice to help you become more aware of the sensations in your body. You need to pay attention to the feeling within your body walking, and the feel of the air around you. Also notice the feeling of your breath.
You then need to tune into the environment around you. Notice what you can see and hear. If you tune into the environment around you and the sensations in your body as you walk, it can help you to focus on the present moment. Some people like to think of it as meditation in motion!
When you eat (let’s say an apple) take the food and look at it. You want to slow down your eating. Pay attention to the skin of the apple – feel the apple – even smell it. Then when you bite, pay attention to how it tastes and the texture and to how it sounds. When you chew the apple, notice the sensations on your lips and in your mouth.
Take a moment to stop and gaze out of the window at the sky and any natural objects – really notice one, observe it closely: perhaps a could formation; a raindrop running down the pane; a leaf or insect being swept by the breeze; a bird in flight. Allow your mind to focus on nature, and take your mind off its busyness.
Close your eyes and notice the sounds outside of the room (birds, traffic, phones), then immediately in your surrounding environment (computer humming, radio), then take your attention to any external sounds associated with your body (if any – like your chair or belt creaking as you breathe for instance) and then to within – the sounds of your own breath, humming or ticking noises in your ears, gurgles in your tummy). Then move back out again in stages.
All the above exercises allow you to in the moment. It makes you more aware of what you see, hear and feel. Becoming more aware of the present moment will help you enjoy the world around you and help you better understand yourself. Being mindful helps you step away from you busy thoughts and stop them controlling you.
Further information on Mindfulness
- Online mindfulness course delivered by Bemindful
- Headspace is an useful app that helps you learn to mediate each day. The website has a blog which has lots of useful and interesting articles around mindfulness.
- 10% happier by Dan Harris
- Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Finding Peace in a Frantic World by Mark Williams and Danny Penman
- I Am Here Now: A Creative Mindfulness Guide and Journal by The Mindfulness Project
- Anxiety Relief: Self Help (with Heart) for Anxiety, Panic attacks and Stress management by John Crawford
- Teaching clients to use Mindfulness Skills by Dunkley, C & Stanton, M
- Little book of Mindfulness by Patrizia Collard