Mindfulness; being present in each moment, aware of yourself, your feelings and your surroundings, rather than consumed by the past or anxious about the future, brings with it the ability to remain calm and grateful in challenging situations. Focussing on the here and now, the abundance of each and every moment will open up your eyes, mind and spirit to the inspired beauty of each breath.
Our day to day lives tend to be extremely busy, filled with rushing from one thing to the next; work, play, school, checking our phone/email/texts, cooking, cleaning, shopping, eating… I’m exhausted just thinking about it. The practice of staying mindful can help to alleviate that sense of panic, anxiety or ‘not enough hours in the day’, which many people feel all too often.
Some of the many benefits of practicing mindfulness include; improved concentration, clarity, focus, confidence & sleep; reduced stress, anxiety, discontent, fear, and anger.
So, how do we practice mindfulness, you ask? Although true and absolute mindfulness tends to be reserved for devout Buddhist monks - practicing from birth to be present and let go of external distractions - there are many ways that you can easily incorporate mindfulness into your everyday… You don’t need to run off and become a monk, although that’s always an option :)
Here are a few tips on how to be present in your own life; how to show up fully aware and engaged in each moment:
1. Remember, being mindful is available to you at all times; consider this: your mind is always with you, you just need to choose to become aware – to be intentional.
2. When you wake up in the morning take a few moments before rising to lay still and breathe deeply; contemplate your surroundings, take in any sounds or smells that might be present, just be still for several deep breaths.
3. Create a mental list of things in your life for which you are grateful – even better, write them down.
4. Become aware of your breath. Throughout the day notice if you are holding your breath, breathing shallowly or deeply...Focussing on your breath and breathing deeply and smoothly is one of the single most effective ways to be present – if you are paying attention to your inhale and your exhale you are in the present moment, aware, mindful.
5. If you find yourself feeling anxious or impatient, focus on your breathing. Stuck in traffic? Waiting in line? Rather than getting upset, look at this as a perfect opportunity to become mindful, focus on your deep inhale and exhale. You will immediately feel calmer and less stressed.
6. Commit to taking 15 minutes each day to sit and be still. Set a timer, sit comfortably and simply observe your thoughts as they pass through your mind. Become aware of your thoughts and without any judgement, allow them to float, like a cloud out of your mind, coming back to your inhale and exhale.
These tips might be very challenging during the first several days (particularly the final one) – yet stay with it and notice as the days pass if you don’t find a deeper sense of clarity, calm and overall well-being. The connection that you are capable of making between your body, mind and spirit may truly surprise you and the benefits may truly amaze you.