‘Mindfulness’ is a bit of a buzz-word in self-care circles right now (and outside them, too). Maybe it conjures images of silent meditation retreats, mala beads, crystals, and the overwhelming desire to buy a Buddha statue for your garden.
What actually is mindfulness?
Put simply: it’s about being present in this moment, right now. Being aware of sensations, bodily-feedback systems, sounds, emotions, dare we say even energies.
Why? Because when we’re able to get present to all of that stuff, to right now, we’re able to notice how we feel in our bodies and minds. We can notice more our crazy minds taking thought-liberties (you know the ones, when you’re constantly overthinking that work / relationship / health problem…). We can really notice if we’re anxious or stressed or overwhelmed. And when we feel this stuff, and ONLY when we feel it, can we then take the steps to help ourselves feel better.
We can breathe deeper, see the thoughts as just thoughts, take a damn break, move, shift some perspective, give ourselves a little self-care time.
When we practice mindfulness we feel better (and no, you don’t need a string of £100 mala beads to get there).
And here’s my favourite mindfulness insight I come back to time and time again:
You don’t need to be experiencing a calm, still, easy-going time to be calm, still, and easy-going.
We just need to decide to let the container—our body—be those things. Even when life is overwhelming, busy, and just too much, let’s find the calm anyway.
And then what? Well, everything just works better and gets easier. Our bodies, our relationships, our responsibilities…
Let’s not wait until the overwhelm, busy-ness and too-much-ness of everyday life causes heartburn or makes us lose it in Sainsbury’s carpark.
Let’s make the decision right now to take care of this inner world of ours. It’s all there is.
How to practice mindfulness
It’s easier than you think. Notice how you’re feeling as you read this. Notice your breath, your posture, the temperature of the air on your skin, the stuff you can see. Notice your body. Are you hungry? Tired? Sad? Stressed? Joyful? Excited? It’s all good, just notice.
Do the same when you’re washing your dishes, taking a shower, doing a food shop. Notice where you are, how you feel, and what you can do to enjoy this moment a little more. Yes, even if you’re in line at the bank.
And once we’ve learned to tap into how we’re feeling, we’re better placed to respond accordingly. Need to dance it out to your favourite 90’s hip hop? Or take a middle-of-the-day savasana? By tapping into mindfulness, you’re in the best position to take care of yourself. And then, everything else good just follows.
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