Few things can have as positive an impact on your health as mindfulness; being mindful affects everything from stress levels to mental clarity, and even your body’s ability to heal.
Unfortunately, our modern lives are more mindless than mindful. We’re constantly running from one thing to the other with barely enough time to breathe let alone connect with the present moment. With so much conflicting advice on how to be mindful, where do you begin?
I’ve put together my top five tips on how to be more mindful every day. Short and simple, they can fit into your busy schedule. Put them into practice and you’ll reap the body & soul benefits of mindfulness in your life.
But first, what’s in it for you? Is mindfulness really all its cracked up to be? Basically, yes. Here’s a bullet list of benefits related to mindfulness:
All this through the simple practice of mindfulness!
Being mindful means to be in a state of non-judgemental awareness of the present moment. When you are mindful, you are fully in the present, aware of your thoughts and sensations, but not judging or interacting with them.
Most of us are not in this state. We have busy lives and busy minds, constantly thinking about the past or the future, creating a sensation of mental confusion, stress, and feeling overwhelmed. When we connect with the state of mindfulness, we take back control of our mind, clear our head, and reconnect with ourselves. Sounds hard? Don’t worry, it isn’t.
What this means is counting your blessings. When you practice gratitude, you are making yourself aware of what is bringing you joy and happiness in the present moment, thereby reconnecting you to the now in a positive way. There are several ways you can include more gratitude in your life:
This doesn’t have to mean sitting cross-legged for hours or chanting by candlelight (although candlelight is a nice addition to your meditation practice). It can be as simple as taking 5 to 10 minutes a day to sit in silence and focus solely on your breathing. It may be difficult at first, but the more you do it, the easier it will feel. If you’re new to meditation, you can find guided meditations to help you get started.
You are more than just your mind. When your mind is overwhelmed with whirlwinds of thoughts or negative emotions, bringing your awareness into your body can help you back to mindfulness. This can be as simple as smelling a flower, petting your dog, giving someone a hug, or taking a walk in nature. This allows you to take a step outside of what’s going on in your mind and reconnect with the present, outside of the sphere of your thoughts.
One of the most common mistakes when practising mindfulness or meditation is to try to achieve an empty mind. The mind thinks that is its nature - in the same way as flowing is water’s nature. Do not expect to have any thoughts when you meditate. Instead, be kind and patient with yourself. If you notice your mind wandering, gently return your attention to your breath or the guided meditation. Notice any self-judgement or criticism around this and consciously let that go.
The benefits you can receive from mindfulness are all the more powerful when you practice consistently. Take a look at your diary and see where you can include mindfulness into your day. It doesn’t have to be the exact same thing every day but including one mindfulness practice daily is the quickest way to see results.
Some examples of short and sweet mindfulness practices you can easily incorporate into your schedule are:
Mindfulness doesn’t have to be difficult. Use these tips to be more mindful and see how much more peaceful, grounded and connected you feel.
How do you stay present in your busy life? I’d love to hear all about it in the comments section!
(1) Donald, J.N., Atkins, P. W.B., Parker, P.D., Christie, A. M., Ryan, R. M. (2016). Daily stress and the benefits of mindfulness. Journal of Research in Personality, 65, 37-37. DOI: 10.1016/j.jrp.2016.09.002
(2) Loucks, E.B., Britton, W.B., Howe, C.J., Eaton, C. B., Bouka, S.L. (2015). Positive associations of dispositional mindfulness with cardiovascular health. International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 22, 540-550. DOI: 10.1007/s12529-014-9448-9
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