The “M” Word

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Mindfulness has recently been creeping, front-line-and-centre, onto mainstream magazine, newspaper and blog headlines, and is being featured as the panacea for everything from losing weight, parenting more effectively, having more positive and productive social as well as work-related interactions, eating less, managing anger and getting more restful sleep.

However Mindfulness isn’t a ‘trick’ or a gimmick or even anything new, nor is it something mystical, exclusive to those who are spiritually-inclined. Mindfulness is a  process that any human can undertake and one which requires no physical resources.

But that does NOT mean that Mindfulness is easy, especially if  you have never undertaken such a mental and emotional journey before. In fact, the contrary is true! Nonetheless, the strategies required to cultivate Mindfulness are accessible to most of us and, when we stick with it and practise regularly (like with all things), Mindfulness actually becomes easier.

So, what is Mindfulness? In short, it is the ability to be fully present in the moment without wishing or trying to make it different. We often find ourselves functioning on “autopilot mode,” floating from one activity to another without even thinking about what we are doing, predisposed by and preoccupied with the past which is over and/or a future that has not been guaranteed to us. It is no wonder at all that we often find ourselves feeling stressed, overwhelmed, anxious, depressed and simply exhausted!

Mindfulness practices can help to restore and strengthen the connection between our minds and our bodies, which can further contribute to improved health, functioning and well-being, despite and in spite of everything else that is bound to happen all around us.

Try one of these simple Mindfulness exercises today to get you going 🙂

Mindful Breathing

You can perform this exercise while standing up or sitting down. The goal is to be still and focus on your breath for one minute. Start by breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth  (Inhale to a count of 3 and exhale to a count of 3).

Let go of all your thoughts as you do this, including that never-ending list of to-dos. Just let yourself be still for one minute and focus on your breath. When thoughts come up (which they will), acknowledge them and then let them pass, do not dwell on them – this is the key.

Watch your breath renew you with life, as it enters your body and fills your lungs and chest, and then watch this same exuberant energy leave your body and release into the world as your breath releases through your mouth.

Mindful Observation

You can also perform this exercise while standing up or sitting down. The goal of this exercise is to help you connect with your environment, something that we easily miss while rushing around in “auto-pilot mode”.

Choose an object (preferably an organic and natural object from your environment, such as a plant, a tree, an insect, a body of water, you get the point!) and focus on watching it for a minute or two. Try not to focus on anything except noticing this object and being aware of what you are looking at for as long as you can manage to. Allow yourself to be consumed by this object, try to connect with its energy and its role and purpose in your world. Look at it as if you are seeing it for the first time and explore every aspect of its presence.

Food for Thought…

Cultivating Mindfulness can help us to cope better with the thoughts and feelings that cause us distress in our everyday lives. By regularly practising Mindfulness, rather than functioning on “auto-pilot mode” (this state, by the way, is influenced by negative past experiences as well as fears/worries of future possibilities), we can teach our mind to be present in the moment. This not only allows us to appreciate our lives a lot more more than we usually tend to, but it also allows us to deal with life’s challenges in a more calm, clear-minded, patient and assertive way. Before you know it, being present in the moment will become as much of a habit as being distracted used to be and even better yet, you can develop a consciousness that frees you from unhelpful, distorted, self-limiting thought patterns and instead enables you to focus on your positive emotions that increase compassion in ourselves and others.

I’m going to start a new tab for Mindfulness posts on this Blog and will strive to post articles on various themes. If you have any suggestions or questions please feel free to comment below or email me your suggestions 🙂

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