The current buzzword: Mindfulness. We’re all talking about it, or the people next to us have mentioned it. It’s being marketed as the ‘way to reduce anxiety and stress’, and if you ask me, it’s fantastic.
But what is it and how on earth can I actually be mindful?
Mindfulness is 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.
I.e it’s something you can do to stop thinking of all the washing you have to do, the fear of tomorrow’s travel plans, and the concern over whether or not you’ll get that job. It makes you focus on your now and become aware of what you are doing in the moment. It makes you see the moment for what it IS, not what you want, need or panic that it might be.
Sounds a bit… different, right? How does it work?
I’m going to try and break this down for you as best I can. I’m also going to make it pretty swift because if you’re struggling to be mindful, you’re probably a fast thinker and won’t be focusing on the details of this post, more so the efficiency of the information.
For me, actually focusing on the present moment is incredibly difficult. I struggle with sitting in my present, constantly concerning myself with last week, yesterday or tomorrow. It’s an ‘organisation’ thing I tell myself, or how I like to ‘prepare’ myself. But it doesn’t actually help me at all. I’ll still have to deal with those things, and I’ll probably deal with them alot better when I haven’t tried to think of 8574895793 solutions to the issue.
So first things first:
Just stop. Stop actioning whatever you’re doing and look at what you’re actually doing. Actually think about the task at hand. If you’re cooking, actually look at the food, look at the way the knife cuts through, smell the scents and feel the motion of your body moving. This will refocus your mind on your present. It will let the whirring thoughts move to the background. I tend to try this when I’m walking home, or when I’m cleaning the house. It sounds a bit silly really, but actually focusing on the trees or the pavement for a moment will stop your mind on it’s constant anxious cycle and force you to live in your present.
Get off your phone.
We’re all guilty of this in some way. Our phones are our link, they’re also our ego and our weak spot. They hold all of the information of others and if you’re a normal human being, you’ll probably want to know what everyone else is up to. With that comes an overwhelming consumation of other peoples ‘stuff’. It makes your brain work overtime and you’ll start to compare yourself, or your life. In reality there’s nothing to compare, you’re just seeing someones highlight reel. I try and put my phone down half an hour before I will want to go to sleep, to reduce the stimulation on my mind. I try to not check my phone when I’m writing on my laptop, because although you could argue I’m still ‘online’, I’m not actually checking anything, I’m simply writing. I’m in the moment.
Talk to strangers.
There’s nothing quite as lovely as walking down your street or your local area in the morning and receiving good mornings from those walking past you. I used to walk with my head down, always on a race to get to my destination. Always. My anxious brain would be telling me I had to just get there, anything on the way would just be a barrier to the job at hand. It stopped me focusing on the moment, the present, and saying hello to my neighbours and other human beings.
Start a hobby.
I know – nobody wants to go to that local book club on their own. Nobody wants to start ‘running’ alone. We generally aren’t fans. What we are fans of though, is getting into groups, but only when we feel comfortable. Is there something that you’re into but you feel a bit awkward about getting involved? Join the social media channels of it first. Maybe you want to go to the local spinning class but you’re unsure of who goes or whether you’d like it. Ask a friend to go with you once, as moral support, then decide if it’s for you. Maybe you want to join a local running group, but you’re feeling a bit shy. Join the facebook page for it and start leaving friendly comments, you’ll find names of others who go and you could always pop them a message and meet up with them there. We’re all humans, remember that.
Give yourself a chance to breathe
If you’re anything like me, and you’re an over-thinker with a highly active mind, you probably don’t give yourself a chance to breathe. This doesn’t actually come into mindfulness but it’s something I have been trying to practice more and more. If I catch myself thinking of all the things I haven’t done, rather than all the things I have managed to do/accomplish, I literally say to myself “Give yourself a break”. We all have an internal voice, and it’s that internal voice that if we challenge and encourage it’s positivity, we’ll find our minds clear, happier and healthier.
Go to the beach, or a place that makes you feel calm
The beach doesn’t make me feel calm so that’s why I’ve said a beach or wherever makes you feel calm. I feel calm in open gardens or fields. I actually feel my body relax when there’s open space and blue skies, it’s really quite amazing. I know for alot of people this happens at the beach. Go to the beach more often if you can, and just sit on a bench or stand by the sea and close your eyes. Let the sounds, the smells and the feelings come into your senses and experience them as they are, as they simply ARE. They don’t have a meaning, an expectation, any fear. They are simply there. Let them be what they, let you be who you are, whatever that looks like and whatever that feels like. You are enough, you’ve just got to believe it. Treat yourself like that sea, accept you for what you are.
I really hope you enjoyed this post. Have you practised mindfulness or do you currently? I’ve love to know new ways of experiencing my present!
Love, Am X