What even is mindfulness? Isn’t it just hippy meditation stuff? Well no. Mindfulness is about concentrating on the here and now and being present. It’s that simple! Except it isn’t that simple because in today’s modern, fast pace, high tech world, instead of being mindful we tend to celebrate quite the opposite – multi tasking! How many people do you hear talking about multi-tasking? I often see social media posts about people who have managed to cook the dinner whist listening to a child read and also checking their emails at the same time. Now this might sound great. We all have too much to do right? We all have “stuff” to get done. Of course, we do! However, I wonder about the quality of the tasks completed, and also the impact on ourselves and our relationships with others. For many busy people, doing one thing at a time seems like a luxury. Incorporating some basic mindfulness techniques can really help you to increase self-awareness, to appreciate yourself and others and to focus your mind and increase productivity at work, and improve relationships at home.
History of mindfulness
Mindfulness has been practiced for thousands of years in eastern philosophy. More recently in the 1970s Jon Kabat-Zinn developed programs at the University of Massachusetts medical school to use mindfulness as stress reduction. in the 1990s it was developed further and used in the UK alongside cognitive behavioural therapy as a recognised treatment for depression.
Mindful breathing and daily check in
Here is a short clip of guided mindfulness for you to have a go at.
Mindfulness in nature
Something that lots of us are guilty of in today’s world, is spending too much time at a screen or in a car and not enough time outside. Finding a way to connect with nature in a way that is manageable in your everyday life can impact on your wellbeing in such a positive way. Here are some ways you can do that:
- take a walk and notice the air, the trees, or the sounds around you.
- take time on your days off to be outdoors.
- leave your phone at home when you go for a walk do there is less distraction.
Mindfulness in our every day
This can be incorporated into everyday activities. When I first started practicing mindfulness, I took a moment at a petrol station that I used once or twice a week. As I was filling the car, I looked around me and noticed a huge bush with really pretty leaves. I had literally never seen it before. And I had been going there for years. Taking this moment to be aware, really aware of my surroundings made me see something I could appreciate at that moment. So next time you are pulling up at the supermarket, or standing in a queue at the post office, look around you and see what is there to be appreciated. This can change your mindset from negative to positive just by finding one thing to enjoy.
Gratitude list to end the day
Who has ever got into bed and thought “well that was a rubbish day”? If one or two bad things happen in a day it’s easy to write it off as a bad day. To put some perspective on this, and to focus on a positive to end the day, a gratitude list can be really helpful. This list can either simply be a list in your head, or you could use a notebook and write an actual list. It just needs to be 3 things that you are grateful for in that day. They may be big things like getting a promotion or that you have been out for a lovely dinner with family or friends. Or they may be more simple things like being grateful for the roof over your head or the food in your cupboards. If you can find three things to be grateful for every day, and keep up the practice of mindfully taking note of them, this will be a positive influence in your daily life.