Take a moment to ask yourself what you are thinking about at this moment. Chances are it’s not about the here and now. So often our mind is racing ahead, caught up with thoughts and concerns about the future. What am I doing today? Where do I need to go? Picking up children, getting to work, rushing to meet deadlines, shopping, cleaning, not to mention anticipating the problems we may encounter along the way. In the quieter moments we can find ourselves looking back on things that have already happened. We often spend a long time thinking about what we could have done better or dwelling on how others may have treated us.
All these experiences are a normal part of life. We’ve all been there. But constantly living in the past or the future can cause us to be disconnected from how we are feeling or what we are experiencing in the present.
Mindfulness is the practice of regularly focusing our attention on the present moment. There are huge benefits to developing an increased awareness of our experiences and sensations as they are happening. Research shows that mindfulness boosts our immune system, emotional state, self-awareness and happiness. It helps us cope better with stress and teaches us to fully connect to what we are doing. We can then live in a more fulfilled way, identifying our needs and making decisions that are conscious rather than automatic or based on habit.
Becoming more mindful is not difficult – it just takes practice and consistency. Here are some simple ways to begin practicing mindfulness in your own life:
1. Make use of spare moments
Life often seems to be about rushing from place to place. We can sometimes think of the times when we are in between destinations or waiting as useless spare time. But these moments can be precious opportunities for mindfulness. As we wait for a bus or sit on the train we can allow ourselves to tune in to ourselves and our surroundings. What is happening around us? What feelings are we aware of? What are our thoughts or the sensations we are having in our body?
2. Tune into your senses
Sometimes becoming fully aware of our surroundings can seem a little overwhelming. There is so much out there in the world around us not to mention all the thoughts and emotions contained within us. Focusing on each of our senses one by one can be a gentle way of tuning in to what we are experiencing. What can we see, hear, touch, taste, smell? Going slowly through all our senses in this way can help us appreciate all aspects of experience including those we may not usually notice.
3. Really listen
How often do we truly listen to what other people say? Many times when we talk with others we are also preoccupied with passing thoughts about ourselves, our anxieties or the distractions around us. Practise really focusing mindfully on what the other person is saying. When we do this it can be amazing how much more we understand about what they are communicating. We may notice additional things about their tone of voice or body language that may also give us more information. It can be a great opportunity for practicing mindfulness and can also improve our relationships and communication skills.
Remember, mindfulness is not about learning complicated techniques or time consuming routines. By making small changes in how we connect with ourselves and the world around us we can all learn to live more mindfully.
I’m always happy to talk about how life can be better.
Make a change today.
Have a great week,
Newbridge, Co. Kildare
Portlaoise, Co. Laois