Mindfulness is the skill of bringing yourself into awareness of the moment. I share mindfulness with most of my clients, it helps to still the racing mind. What I really love about mindfulness, is that there is no one set way to find yourself in a mindful moment. Some people love to move; some love to sit still and gaze at a beautiful scenery, some love to bake or share a giggle with their child. Mindfulness is a skill you can allow to be in your normal everyday life.
The reality is we all find moments of mindfulness naturally. The trick is knowing how to bring your self into that awareness when you want to. If you were to think of activities that you find peaceful, pleasurable or even thrilling you are most likely engaging your brain and body in mindful activity. There are two really simple principles that help us to be mindfully present.
The first principle is being in your body, which means you are engaging your senses. What you can see, smell, hear, taste and touch. Right now you could take a moment to focus on something you can see, or something you can hear. See it’s simple, you can be anywhere, doing anything, with anyone to press the pause button and engage your senses. When you are focusing your attention on your senses your brain is working in a different way, it is taking in sensory information. The trick is however to stay in this sensory focused state. Thoughts move very fast. It is very natural and normal to think and evaluate what we sense when we need to.
Imagine, you were driving on a busy road, you take a snap shot of awareness. You might see the yellow light ahead and the 4WD behind you moving fast. There are cars on either side, the road is wet, you hear the rain, the tyres on the road and the windshield wiper. Then you evaluate and respond to your snapshot. So you slow, the car to an even pace in hope of signally to the car behind you to slow down and stop in time for the now approaching red light.
Mindfulness is the first part, the snap shot of awareness and the only way to really stay there is to focus on observing and noticing. As soon as evaluation and judgement turn up you are stepping out of mindfulness. So the second principle is to just observe, notice and suspend judgement. For instance:
I might notice the glass of water sitting beside me. I can look at the colour and feel the weight of the glass as I pick it up, the smooth texture. Then as I bring the glass to my lips, I can notice my body movements, the touch of the glass and then the coolness of the water. I can notice the path of the water as I swallow and breathe. Observe and notice.
I might need to unhook myself from the thoughts of, “Marianne you don’t drink enough water, water is so good for, you are so lucky to have yummy fresh filtered water. Oh yeah … I wonder when I need to replace the water filter, where is that phone number again … I also need to replace the tyres on my car, better write that down. Stop now! You are meant to be practicing mindfulness! Observe and notice the water, the glass. lol”.
Like I said, it is a skill. It is much easier to practice a skill before a big event. So my homework to you is: Five minutes of mindfulness every day. No excuses! You could be sitting on the bus on your way to work; sitting in the pick up zone outside the school; cooking dinner; hanging out the washing or even lying in bed feeling how delicious it is to stop and stretch out from the day. Five minutes of blissful mindfulness, you deserve it.