Mindfulness: What Is It and How The Hell Do I Do It?
Mindfulness has become one of those buzz words that people through about without much understanding of what it truly is. It’s like the ‘superfood’ for mental health, and everyone is jumping on the bandwagon in an attempt to be trendy. But what is it really?
Mindfulness is simply being present and active in this moment, right here, right now. It brings us down to earth when we are flying off on a stress induced tangent from our ungrateful manager, when we are feeling overwhelmed by our relationships, and also allows us to practice gratitude for the life that we are currently living.
The benefits of this are plentiful, as it teaches us to stop and see where we are right now, being conscious of our decisions on a daily basis, and being present in the life that is flying past us before we can notice that it’s come and gone.
So here are my top five tips for practicing Mindfulness that you can incorporate into your daily life:
1. Breath. When you find yourself feeling under the pump, step back and take 10 deep breaths before you continue. This slows down your heart rate and brings you back to a calmer place.
2. Get to know your surroundings. Name 5 things you can see, touch, smell or hear around you, forcing yourself to acknowledge where you are and what you are doing right now.
3. Develop a mantra. This doesn’t need to be super oogly googly, it’s just a reminder to trigger your brain into coming back to this moment. An example I use is, taught to be by a yoga teacher, “I breathe in as I inhale, I breathe out as I exhale.”
4. Step outside and reconnect. We live such fast paced lives with our phones permanently attached to our hands that we don’t get to really immerse ourselves in nature enough. Get out of your office or your home, and just be outside. Get your toes amongst the grass or the sand, feel the sun on your skin, and breath in the fresh air until your lungs can’t fit anymore.
5. Pause and Re-evaluate. We run like clockwork most days, making choices and doing things that we often don’t even realise that we are doing. We are programmed to think with negatives in mind; “What if it doesn’t work?” “What if I fail?” “What could go wrong?” When you find yourself thinking these thoughts, just stop, ask yourself instead, “Why am I thinking this way?” “What am I afraid of?” And, “What if this goes right?”
Try to incorporate one or more of these tips into your daily routine and you will start to notice a difference in the way that your mind starts to think. Train yourself to think in the here and the now, follow your heart with your decision making, and appreciate everything that you have in front of you.
I have learned that positivity is a choice that we can choose to make in every minute of every day, we just have to learn how to. It’s frickin hard, and there will always be days that are harder than others, but once you learn this skill, there will always be endless silver linings.
Photography: Emma Ceolin