Mindfulness is hot right now.
You may have seen Mindfulness on the front of Time Magazine, heard about mindfulness being used by staff at Google or maybe your health professional recommended mindfulness to you.
But mindfulness is more than just a passing fad. The basis of mindfulness comes from none other than the Buddha himself, around 2500 years ago.
Mindfulness is both a set of techniques and way of living that makes you more focused, calm and creative.
The approach includes not only meditations but also offers a way of paying attention to your everyday activities, making yourself more centred, grounded and balanced.
Everyone has a wild mind.
We all overreact to the demands of our lives when stretched to our limits.
Our world collapses in on itself and we lose empathy for others who are struggling just as we are when stress has us in its grip.
Fortunately, we need not lose hope that things can get better.
However, if you practice mindfulness can slowly and steadily soothe your mind and heart, positively nourishing all parts of your life.
It’s a bit like gentle rain soaking into a land of drought. The rain is mindfulness. The drought is the constant doing of modern living.
Here are 4 everyday activities that can instantly be turned into a mindfulness exercise:
1. Mindful eating
Take a small piece of fruit and take about five minutes to savour it. Go through each sense for a minute and cultivate a feeling of curiosity.
Notice the exact shades of colour of the apple, take time to enjoy the scent, close your eyes to become aware of what it feels like to hold this small piece of food in your hand.
Rejoice in the wild range of flavours as you slowly chew and eventually swallow the fruit in your mouth. This process gives you a great introductory experience of what mindfulness is about.
2. Mindful bodyscan meditation
Lie down on your back with your arms and legs stretched out. Take anywhere from five to 20 minutes going through the sensations in your entire body, from the tips of your toes to the top of your head.
Your mind will wander off to all sorts of thoughts hundreds of times. Each time you notice that, acknowledge and bring your kind attention back to whatever body part you were focusing on.
Be as patient with yourself as you can. Enjoy the experience – don’t rush it.
3. Mindful walking
The next time you’re walking to work, the shops or wherever you’re going, try this exercise: just focus on the process of walking and breathing. So take off your headphones, set aside your mental to-do list and just walk.
Notice the feeling in your feet as you take each step. Bring a sense of inquisitiveness.
Which part of your foot touches the ground first?
How fast are you breathing?
Do you breathe from your nose or mouth as you walk?
Are your shoulders or jaw tense as you move?
Just being aware of this bodily experiences cultivates greater mindfulness and can be a welcome change to the constant rushing of our lives.
4. Mindful breathing
Simply take a few minutes everyday to feel the physical sensation of your own breathing with a sense of affection and warmth.
Each time your mind wanders off, gently and kindly bring your attention back to the breath. Sounds overly simple, but can be tremendously soothing with practice.
The more you can feel your breath with kindness, the more you’ll enjoy the process and the less your mind will jump about. And you can do the exercise anywhere, so it’s even more portable than your phone – you can’t leave your breath at work when you’re going home!
Are you willing to try any of the above exercises? Try them out this week and comment on your experiences below 🙂
Shamash Alidina is bestselling author of seven books on mindfulness, also including Mindfulness for Dummies. His latest book, The Mindful Way Through Stress acts as a friendly self-help guide, taking you through the evidence-based eight-week mindfulness course, along with guided audio. The book is available to purchase from Amazon and other good bookshops. He offers online mindfulness training and teacher training. His approach is to teach mindfulness with compassion – turning mindfulness into kindfulness.