‘Mindfulness’ is one of those words I find hard to define. Probably because it’s subjective and it can be based on emotion, experience, age, wisdom, priorities, timing, self-awareness and so on.
I was asked by the lovely team at Swisse to think and reflect upon what ‘mindfulness’ means to me throughout the month of May (Mindful May :)) and it really got me thinking. How can I possibly answer this in a way that may be beneficial to all of YOU ? After all….my idea of meditation I’m sure is not the same as everyone else’s.
I’ve tried my best to give a personal but constructive approach to tackling ‘mindfulness’ on a daily/weekly/monthly basis and offer my tips for achieving a more mindful life.
If you are to google the term mindfulness you will be given a definition something like this: Mindfulness is the practice of bringing one’s attention to the internal and external experiences occurring in the present moment, which can be developed through the practice of meditation. 1 ……..already I’m stumped. When I think of meditation I think of Yoga…Yin Yoga to be exact and something I find almost impossible. However, through a bit of research, listening to my mentors and my own intuition I’ve realised you DON’T have to be a yoga expert to practice mindfulness on a daily basis (..although I’m sure it helps!).
Here’s my spin on being more mindful to help you on your wellness journey:
- Acceptance: If you don’t want to be in that gym class, or on that beach walk, or at that meditation session the likelihood is you won’t ‘accept’ it and allow yourself to experience what’s right in front of you. It sounds silly but sometimes (although I do believe in spontaneity) you might want to schedule your ‘mindfulness’ so that you can experience it on your terms. Learning to be more present with your time and experiences will enrich your life and ability to be happy and fulfilled. How to do it: When you get to that gym class, yoga session, walk or just a quick 15 minutes sitting comfortably allow yourself to experience the simple pleasure of now. Mute those thoughts and distractions for that time and focus on the simple things: your breath, the way the cushion feels underneath you, the way you execute each exercise, the sweat trickling down your face and so on. Embrace all of these internal and external feelings that you may otherwise have missed.
- Presence: Something I hear time and time again and with good reason. I find it extremely difficult to be ‘present’ and I do believe it is an art. An art nonetheless that can be perfected and you don’t need to be too hard on yourself if you find it hard to be present on ‘cue’. If i’m honest, I’m a pretty restless person with a million things whizzing through my mind at once so deciding to block those things out for a second can be tough. Just start small (say 1-5 minutes) and work on that. How to do it: Be conscious of the things that are going on in your head and try your best to block them out……when I’m not in the yoga studio I always do this in the shower or just as I’m going to sleep. Give yourself a moment to feel the water on your skin or the soft duvet you’re snuggling into. Work on blocking your thoughts out and you will get better and better (I promise!)
- Meditation: I thought this was new to me too…….meditation is definitely something I associate with Yoga…which can sometimes be the case but not always. Just last week I was lucky enough to go to an event called ‘conscious and caring’ which was hosted by the Collective Hub and Dove Hair-Care, amongst the speakers were Lisa Messenger and Turia Pitt. Turia as you may or may not know recently completed Iron Man which is a feat in itself but for someone who was told they might not ever be able to run again really takes inspiring to the next level. Turia talked of running as being her meditation and this is something that resonated with me. As I’ve said in previous posts running forces my mind to switch off and give me a ‘break’ and is definitely my form of meditation along with cooking. How to do it: Whatever your meditation may be (yoga/running/cooking/singing/playing an instrument/reading/painting/drawing/colouring etc) do more of it…..and add in a few different degrees of meditation along the way.
Swisse recently introduced me to the One Giant Mind App where you are guided through the traditional form of meditation in 12 easy steps and shown techniques to help you meditate whether you are in a quiet field somewhere (heaven!) or on the train to work. These are awesome techniques to help you hone your meditation skills and:
Reduce stress and anxiety
Experience greater happiness and wellbeing
Have increased energy
Be more present
Have greater focus and clarity.
- Time Out: yes we are all busy and have an endless list of things we need to do…but that doesn’t mean we are not allowed to stop. Allow yourself some time out to revel in the ‘now’. Give yourself a break for a few minutes and become aware of where you are, who you are with, what you can taste, smell, see and it will give you enormous gratitude. Don’t feel guilty for this time……it is what life is all about!
- Connect: Listen and try to understand the way that you feel and notice when you are feeling positive and confident and when you are feeling diffident and insecure. Ask yourself why you are feeling this way and how/if you can change it? How to do it: Perhaps certain people are affecting your mind and positivity? Perhaps you have an underlying stressor which is affecting your mood? Perhaps your diet and exercise needs to be changed? Perhaps you love your job and the way your colleagues make you feel? Whatever it is, taking control of these thoughts whether positive or negative will help you gain clarity and develop a filter. Filtering out the negative whilst breeding the positive will ultimately lead to greater happiness and wellbeing.
I hope you find my tips for leading a more mindful life helpful! If you have any feedback or tips of your own don’t forget to let me know in the comments below!
Sophie x x