Mindfulness - what is it and how can you incorporate it into your life?
We all live very busy lives.. It's somewhat how the society is now more than ever; dictating our lifestyles to do bigger and better things, quicker, more efficient, without stopping.. And all it does is actually making our lives even more stressful and far less productive - losing our mindfulness.
But what if I told you, you could start becoming more mindful in life? What if you could actually experience living in the moment and letting go of the past and stop worrying about the future?
Well, I am telling you this; you absolutely can and I will take you through a few small tips on how to bring your mind into the present moment so that you can experience more joy and peace, and less stress.
But, what is mindfulness then?
You can think of mindfulness as simply being fully in the moment or paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally — as if your life depended on it. That might be the simple definition, but being engaged 100 per cent doesn't come easy, especially in our world of distractions.
It means actively listening and not zoning out (even a little) when your co-worker tells the same story for the third time, and it means using all your senses in even mundane situations like washing the dishes or walking to the bus stop.
I have outlined below a few tips and tricks on how to heighten your awareness, consciousness and senses to bring more mindfulness into your life..
Start out small and work more of the below tips into your life as you progress.
Upon waking up:
DON'T GET OUT OF BED JUST YET! Yes, I mean that..
Before we get started with our days (outside of our beds), our minds and thoughts haven’t woken up properly. That’s a good thing!
We will have had no new impressions, besides from our dreams, and so this is really the perfect time for your first meditation of the day.
- Sit back comfortably. If you’re in bed, put a pillow behind your lower back, and lean against the headrest. Keep your legs in a cross-legged position or straight out. Don’t bend your knees as you need to be in a relaxed, non-strained way.
- Close your eyes, and fill up your lungs with a huge breath. Then hold it at the very top, sip in a bit more air, hold it again, and then let it all go through your mouth.
- Now, keep breathing normally, in through your nose and out through your nose. Repeatedly. Keep listening to your breath, coming in and out of your nose. Feel the air expand and contract in your lungs.
- Let your mind go. Don’t judge what comes to if or if you drift off. The instance you drift off to what you should be doing when you’re done, what clothes you will wear today, what the kids are going to eat - come back to your breath, and listen to this.
- Your mind will keep wanting to drift off, but every time it does, just keep coming back to the rhythm and sound of your breath.
- When you come out of your meditation, carefully blink your eyes open, move your feet, toes, hands, fingers. Feel your chest and heart with your hands. And notice the brighter outlook you’re starting your day with.
Build up your meditations to 20 minutes, but if you’re new to meditation, start off with a 5-10 minute meditation each morning.
Your meditations will vary - like everything in life. Some days they’ll be peaceful, great, amazing. And other days they’ll feel confusing, thoughtful and a bit stressed. That’s life. What’s important is not to judge your thoughts, feelings or how your meditation is. It’s all perfect just the way it unfolds.
At this time you will probably be at work - whether that’s in the office or working for yourself. Make a conscious effort to get away from the desk to allow your mind to get a break from ‘life’ and to reconnect with yourself.
Go for a walk to the nearest park or beach and do some ‘Earthing’ - yes, that is indeed a word. Kick off your shoes and get barefoot.
Earthing basically means connecting to the Earth’s natural energy and vibrations and is, what many believe, foundational to obtaining vibrant health - mentally, physically and spiritually.
Just as the sun gives us warmth and vitamin D, the Earth underfoot gives us food and water, a surface to walk, sit, stand, play, and build on, and something you never, ever thought about—an eternal, natural, and gentle energy. Think of it perhaps as vitamin G—G for ground.
You can’t see the Earth’s energy but you can feel it as a warm, tingling, and pleasant sensation when you are out walking barefoot along the water’s edge at the beach or on a stretch of grass.
After a little walk, sit down or even better, lay down on your back, and close your eyes. Put your hand on your chest, and the other on your belly. Take a deep breath and relax. Think about 3 things (people, situations, experiences etc) that you are grateful for. Really connect to these feelings you get around the 3 things you’re thinking of. Then, after a few minutes of showing them your gratitude, sign it off with a loving inhale and exhale and open your eyes.
It is time for your second meditation of the day. Follow the steps above. If you’re not at home, find a quiet place like a park or a meeting-room and take some time-out for you.
Before dinner, take 15 minutes to yourself to get into some stretching and really feeling your body and connecting with yourself after a long day.
Our lower bodies get really impacted by sitting down the entire day or even running around. Our legs carry a lot of weight through the day, so stretching the hip flexors is key to, not only feeling better, but also a great posture-corrector for both sitting and standing.
Hold these poses for 1 minute each. If there's a right and a left side, hold each pose for 1 minute on each side:
- Pigeon Pose
- Happy Baby
- Sitting Butterfly
- Lizard Pose
- Sumo Squat Pose
- Frog Pose
- Seated Straddle Stretch
Just before bed:
Find your journal and note down 3-4 things you’re grateful for from today. Maybe your boss gave you a compliment, your daughter got an A in math, your husband cleaned the house, a stranger said hi or something completely different.
Noting down the small little things in our life, makes us realise that those little things add up to the big thing we so often are waiting for to happen, unaware of it’s already unfolding in front of our very own eyes.