Simple steps to mindfulness
Posted on June 12 2019
Mindfulness is something many of us aspire to achieve. And why wouldn’t we? It promises to make us healthier, happier and more focused. But the truth is, it’s not always easy becoming more mindful, which is why many people are reluctant to try it. The good news is, there are some simple ways to get you started on your journey to a clearer mind.
What is mindfulness?
Its easy to get confused about mindfulness because its often associated with meditation. If you’re not keen on meditation, it might put you off the idea of mindfulness, but the two are, in fact, separate.
Mindfulness is the ability to be fully present and engaged in the moment without distraction. When we’re being mindful, we simply notice our experiences without judging them, we’re aware of our feelings and thoughts but we’re not caught up in them. Mindfulness is very similar to mediation, but they’re not exactly the same.
There are many ways to practice mindfulness, and meditation is just one of them. It’s sort of like a training ground for learning how to be more mindful throughout the day, every day, and can help you become more aware of your emotions and responses. The difference between mindfulness and meditation is that whenever you’re making an effort to notice what you’re experiencing, you’re being mindful.
If you do want to get started with a simple meditative practice, you could start by finding a comfortable place to sit. A simple technique if you struggle to focus, is lighting a candle and staring at the flame to hold your attention. If your mind wanders, just observe the movement of the flame and release those thoughts.
There’s no such thing as perfect meditation, and the most important thing is consistency. Keep up your meditative practice and over time it will become easier. If you don’t feel confident enough to start meditation alone, there are plenty of guides and apps that can give you push in the right direction.
It’s okay to start small
If meditation still seems a bit daunting, you can practice mindfulness in other, simpler ways. Pausing to exercise mindfulness for just a few minutes at different points in your day can go a long way. Here’s a few mindful techniques to get you going:
1) Pencil in some relaxation
A great first step is to set aside some time for a mindful exercise. Many people find colouring a helpful way to focus on the present. Colouring books have expanded into more than just a way to entertain kids. They offer a way to immerse yourself in a mindful activity, where your thoughts and surroundings no longer disrupt the present moment. When your thoughts are focused on a simple activity, your mind can settle and relax.
2) Food in focus
Even without adding to your routine, you can incorporate mindfulness into things you already do. For example, eating is something we do every day, but how often do you really concentrate on the taste, smell and texture of your food? Often, you’ll eat while focusing on something else, like the TV or your phone. Instead of this, try to free your mind of distractions and concentrate on what you’re doing. Being fully present in the experience of eating will help you listen to your body and enjoy your food. This mindful eating practice can have both mental and physical benefits and it won’t take a bite out of your busy schedule.
3) Take a deep breath
You can take even smaller steps to mindfulness, too. Simply breathing deeply, into the stomach, can help you relax and focus. Breathing is a key mindfulness practice because it’s a simple way to bring our awareness back to the moment and allow everything else to just ‘be’. Remember, you don’t have to throw yourself in at the deep end. Instead, start slowly and make mindfulness a habit over time.
What to remember
There are plenty of mindfulness techniques to choose from, but most have one thing in common. They aim to promote calm and clarity, in order to help you be more aware. As you practice moments of mindfulness on a regular basis, you’ll notice that they come more naturally and easily to you. Whatever way you choose to exercise mindfulness, know that even small changes are a great first step.