A beginners guide to mindfulness
Mindfulness has become hugely popular over the past few years – you’ve probably come across it at some point or maybe you use it regularly. It has gone from being a fringe practice to the mainstream and is a fantastic way to reduce stress, anxiety and burnout and live a more focussed and purposeful lifestyle.
Mindfulness is not a new invention, it has been practised for thousands of years. It’s aim? To end suffering. So, what is it and how do you do it?
Mindfulness is paying attention to what is happening in the current moment without judgement. Both within our thoughts and bodies and the world around us. It encourages us to create a natural curiosity about what we are feeling in the current moment, good or bad. To learn to sit with it without the need to make changes, purely to acknowledge them and learn to just be.
Practicing mindfulness helps us to turn our focus to experiences occurring in the present moment in order to help create awareness and gratitude. It can help us to notice our stresses or negative thoughts early on in order to change the way we perceive them.
It has many benefits including easing anxiety and stress, lowering blood pressure and creating a more positive mindset. When we learn to be more present and notice life as it is happening to us, we can begin to become more grateful for what we have, right now, in this moment.
So why is learning to become more present so useful and why should we do it?
Well, put simply, becoming more present in both our thoughts and surroundings helps us to notice things we might previously have taken for granted.
It can teach us to find enjoyment in everyday activities or small moments we might otherwise miss that bring us bursts of happiness.
When we learn to savour moments such as the breeze in our hair, the sun on our skin, that first bite of pizza or the warmth as we sink into a hot bubble bath, we can begin to notice more moments that bring us pleasure and do them more often. As is our mantra at LSW London, repeating small moments of happiness regularly will spread out into a happier life overall.
The great thing about mindfulness is that you can practice it anytime, anywhere. Try bringing mindfulness into different daily activities throughout your day. Have fun with it and pay attention to what you learn about your thoughts at different times of the day
Remember, it is all about focusing your attention to the present moment. These can be smells, tastes, touch, sounds, thoughts. A great way to begin becoming more mindful in your everyday is to apply it to the slightly more mundane tasks. The tasks you might normally zone out of or daydream through. Here are some activities you can try this with:
Brushing your teeth
Making a cup of tea or coffee
Having a shower
These are all activities that are normally done without thought, so the challenge here is to become really intentional with the action. Take brushing your teeth for example. Notice how the brush against your teeth feels, the curve of the brush in your hand, the feeling of the toothpaste as it froths up in your mouth, the taste of the toothpaste, the smell of the minty freshness, zone in on the sound of the toothbrush moving back and forth, notice as you move from one tooth to another, how does it make you feel? It might feel a little silly at first but the more you focus your attention inward, the more you might notice things you haven’t before. This is all about training your mind to focus in on what is happening right now, in this moment. Not about what you’re going to have for lunch or worrying about that meeting you have later. Just allowing yourself to be in this moment.
You might be surprised how good you feel after brushing your teeth. The fresh feeling inside your mouth, the positive feeling of having a clean set of teeth, you might even notice how relaxed you feel after focusing so intently on being completely present in that moment.
Play around with different activities you normally do on autopilot, see what new things you might notice when you do. It’s all usual useful information.
I hope you enjoy playing around with this and the more you do, the more you might find yourself becoming more mindful in new situations. Remember, as Sharon Saltzberg says “mindfulness isn’t difficult. We just need to remember to do it.”