In today’s often-busy life, it’s all too easy to forget about the simple things and get totally consumed and caught up in living. Before we know it, we’re feeling burnt out, stressed, stretched to our limits, strained relationships and in severe cases, sick and in bed.
Mindfulness can be defined as “the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something” or “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.”
Too often, people confuse mindfulness with switching off and quietening the mind however, in our opinion and experience, mindfulness is NOT about switching off in the slightest – unfortunately, that can’t be done unless it’s the plug in the wall that gets flicked.
For us, and a large focus of our Retreat in Spain, mindfulness is more about having the mind full of the necessary things, one at a time, regardless of what those things are, and being at peace with them. When we simply place our focus on ONE thing, and become totally aware and in tune with it, it brings about a peace of mind and calmness amidst everything else.
Used in combination with a number of other practices, mindfulness is a pretty powerful tool to use in combatting and dealing with stress and other emotional challenges.
It’s not about creating peace and quiet, it’s about being at peace and quiet with the noise going on around you. It’s about turning down the volume and tuning into YOU.
As we like to say to people – what would you do if left entirely on your own, not relying on anyone or anything else to quiet the mind be it through chatting, dancing, massage, anything else.
It must be noted that mindfulness is like anything – exercise, nutrition, a new skill – it must be practiced daily and becomes easier with the more you do it.
Incorporating just 5 minutes of mindfulness into your daily routine can make a big difference.
Here are a few simple tips that you can start incorporating into your daily routine to start leading a more mindful life.
Take a few moments out of your day to simply focus on your breathing.
When we are upset or stressed our breathing becomes quick and shallow. Breathing deeply and slowly instantly calms us down mentally as well as physically. Concentrating on our breathing, also helps us to live in the present and feel alive and when our breathing is deep, slow and regular, our minds will be more peaceful and in the moment, helping us to look at what is really going on.
Sit comfortably, close your eyes and breathe in through your nose for the count of 4, hold for the count of 3 and exhale through your mouth for the count of 6. Do this 4 or 5 times, 3 times a day.
Spend 5 minutes, 3 times a day, simply focusing on your thoughts.
Put a pen and paper next to you, close your eyes and just be aware of everything that comes up. As it does, write it down and then return to your eyes-closed position. Whilst you are doing this, simply pay attention to your body and what is happening.
This helps us to become more aware, and mindful, of the thought process constantly taking place and helps us to slowly identify what thoughts require attention and what thoughts are merely there. Once you have completed your 5 minutes, go through your list and see what requires attention and what can be “filed.”
Eat at least one meal in complete silence every week.
Turn off the TV and radio, prepare your meal, set a place at the table, light and candle and just sit and eat your meal on your own. Put down your knife and fork between each mouthful, focusing on the flavors, textures and tastes of your food.
Too often, meals are eaten in a hurry with loads of noise around us, which interferes with the digestive process. Eating mindfully helps us digest the food better, and believe it or not, leads to eating smaller portions as you are eating slower and savoring your meal more, thereby being more mindful of when your body is satisfied.