Mindfulness is a word which gets thrown around a lot these days. There’s books and self help guides for all kinds of mindfulness. Mindful cooking, mindful baking, mindful gardening, mindful breathing, and even mindful eating, to share just a handful of examples!
A few weeks ago, I found myself having to remind myself what mindfulness was. I had somehow been swept up into a never-ending cycle of work, job hunting, and redundancy panic, that I had to take a step back and remind myself why I had created the Mindful Gingernut, and to bring back some mindfulness into my life.
So what exactly is mindfulness?
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, to be mindful is ‘to be conscious or aware of something‘ or to focus ‘one’s awareness on the present moment, especially as part of a therapeutic or meditative technique‘.
Whilst these definitions go some way to explaining why there are so many different types of mindfulness, in reality, anything can be a mindful activity if it helps you to be present and to be aware of what you are doing, and what is going on around you.
It might sound relatively straightforward, but it’s not quite as easy as it sounds.
I often find myself having to remind myself to be present. It’s so easy in our busy lives to forget to be mindful. It’s easy to get swept along with the stresses of the day and before you can do anything about it, you’re no longer present.
The biggest alarm bell for me is a growing sense of anxiety.
Although falling into a cycle of anxiousness isn’t ideal, I’m lucky that I know when it’s starting to consume me, and I’m able to use different mindfulness techniques to bring myself back to the present.
The benefits of being mindful
We are all born with the ability to be mindful. It is up to us to decide whether we wish unlock it.
Mindfulness can be practised sitting down, standing up, moving around or even lying down. If you’re new to mindfulness, it’s best to try different techniques to see which works best for you.
Some of the many benefits of mindfulness are:
- A reduction in stress and anxiety
- Increased performance
- Better awareness
- Greater curiosity
- The opportunity to check in with ourselves
A lot of people associate meditation and activities such as yoga with mindfulness, and they are a great way to be mindful. I have a very on/off relationship with meditation. Sometimes I find myself getting into it, other times I find it more challenging. It’s not that I find it difficult to focus whilst I’m meditating, I just find it really difficult to sit still!
If meditation isn’t your cup of tea, here are three other simple mindfulness techniques you can try:
- As silly as it sounds, sometimes we forget to breathe properly. We have a habit of breathing shallowly, as opposed to breathing deeply. Next time you go out for a walk, make a note of how you are breathing, and if you find yourself breathing shallowly, take a few really deep breaths, and notice the difference in how it makes you feel;
- When you sit down to have your next meal, try a mindful eating practice. Make a conscious effort to taste your food, and to notice how your food looks, and to be aware of the different textures in your mouth. This exercise always makes me realise how easy it is to throw a meal together and gobble it down without paying attention to the process of eating;
- Did you know that colouring in is increasingly popular, even for adults? If you type into Amazon (or any other online resource) ‘Colouring books for adults‘ you’ll find hundreds of different colouring books to chose from. Focusing on the colouring in technique, the colours you’re using , as well as the feel of the felt pen in your hand, can help you to focus on what you are doing as opposed to just creating a pretty picture.
For those of you new to mindfulness, I hope this post has encouraged you to give mindfulness practice a try!
Those of you who already practice, I’d love to hear what your favourite mindfulness techniques are.
Have a great week, stay safe, and don’t forget to be present 🙂