Most of us spend our lives on autopilot. We go through the motions at work, at home, while we eat and even when we interact with those around us. Often, although we are physically present, our minds are elsewhere – ruminating on the past or worrying about the future. In this state, decisions are made, habits are formed and a life is created – but is it always positive?
Mindfulness has become something of a buzzword over recent years, with people from all walks of life choosing to be more present and take better notice of the world around them. But what exactly is mindfulness? And how can it impact our day to day lives?
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is paying attention to what is going on inside and outside of ourselves in each moment. It actively promotes removing ourselves from our heads and noticing how our thoughts are triggering our emotions (and vice versa) and driving our behaviour.
An important part of mindfulness is reconnecting with our bodies and the sensations they experience. For example, mindful eating encourages us to observe, understand and gain awareness of our eating behaviour. It promotes purposeful eating and connecting with our bodies to understand what they need at any given time.
When we are able to see ourselves and our environments in the present moment, it can positively change the way we approach ourselves and our lives.
Why is mindfulness effective?
Mindfulness practice activates and, over time, builds up the part of our brain responsible for emotional control and decision making, enabling us to ‘respond’ rather than ‘react’ to situations.
Regular mindfulness practice – both formal meditations and informal ones (doing some everyday activities such as walking, eating, etc. mindfully) – not only helps us respond to the pressures of work and home life in a calmer and more productive manner, but also gives us more clarity and focus, and helps us make more optimal decisions.
How do I get started with mindfulness?
The key thing to remember with mindfulness is the more you do it, the easier it becomes. Luckily, there are a range of apps you can download that will help you to get started.
Explore the different options to find the guided meditations that you find most engaging. They all vary in length and approach – you can opt for mindfulness for weight loss, stress relief, a better night’s sleep and more.
If you can, aim to do a ‘three minute breathing space meditation’ at least once a day. You can do this by stopping, closing your eyes and checking in with your thoughts, breath and bodily sensations. The best part is, this can be done anywhere at anytime.
Too ‘busy’ for mindfulness?
Pick one activity during the day (e.g. brushing your teeth, taking a shower, making yourself a cup of tea) and do it mindfully – bringing your focus to what you’re actually doing in that moment, instead of thinking about the past or future. This is the perfect way to practise mindfulness, if you’re not quite ready to fully embrace it, as it takes no more of your day than the activity you’d be doing anyway.
Try practising mindfulness every day for a week and you will soon find that you reap the many benefits related to the practice. You’ll notice you are calmer and more composed and you will have a heightened awareness and ability to focus, make effective decisions and have greater mental clarity in all aspects of your life.
Why not make mindfulness a part of your daily work routine? Mindful teams are found to be happier, more productive with considerably lower stress-related absences. Get in touch to see how we can help.