You may have heard a lot about mindfulness recently. The word is everywhere, but what does it all mean? The dictionary says that it is the act of being mindful – very true, but the new definition includes adopting a particular state of being, and it is this definition that holds the most power.
To be mindful is not merely to be careful about choosing your words, or pausing for a moment before you rush in to a task. Modern mindfulness embraces a holistic approach where the user is in a meditative state – both fully aware and in the moment, whilst also being conscious of this awareness. But don’t let the word meditative fool you. It is not about sitting quietly in a chair with your eyes closed and deep breathing! Mindfulness in daily action is all about paying attention with an infusion of gratitude. This is where the power is, as operating on this level day to day will put you into flow, where the completion of your tasks happens easily with less effort.
Mindfulness is both a science and an art. Studies have shown that mindfulness can directly impact anxiety and depression and lower stress levels overall. But it is an art because practising it is a creative form of self expression. It appeals to the emotions and creates an experience of affirmation and communication with others. Basically speaking, it can help us get on with life better.
So how do we do it? There are many ways but an easy place to start is to actively do some deep breathing to slow yourself down. The act of noticing your breath stops for a moment, the chatter in our brains and allows the body to get a good dose of fresh oxygen. Then, being mindful is about completing your daily tasks with an awareness of what you are doing. When we are busy we can slip into autopilot. Mindfulness is about stopping yourself from getting back on that hamster wheel, by noticing and paying attention.
If you are making a cup of coffee, really notice what you are doing. Hear the sound of the kettle boiling, the smell of the freshly opened jar of coffee, the clink of the spoon against the cup as you stir, the hot water brimming at the top of the cup as you bring it to your lips to take a sip. Slow down and watch – it only takes a few minutes but the calming effect it has on your body and mind is immediate.
Once you see the joyful benefits of a mindful existence, you may want to create a regular ritual for yourself, as a way to tap into mindful living. A sacred hour is one way to create the calm space in your day to devote to observance and the benefits of starting your day with a mindful intention will last throughout the whole day.
Regular devotees of mindfulness will find that daily living has a sense of ease to it, that release and letting go provide the most savoury experience and their mood is greatly improved. Be inspired to take it easy and let life flow.