We live in a world that places many demands on our lives. As a result, self-care is more important than ever. We take the time to look after our physical health by going to the gym, running or playing sport. Our mental wellbeing is just as important.
Mindfulness is the practice of focusing on the present moment. This is the only moment in time we have control over. It’s a process of tuning into the finer details; the wetness of rain, the warmth of the sun, the air as it fills our lungs. Mindfulness is a reminder that we are here living, breathing, seeing, feeling beings.While mindfulness may seem like a simple state of mind to achieve, actioning mindfulness can be hard. For some people, being present comes naturally. For others it can take a while to bring focus to the here and now. The good thing is, there are many ways to bring mindfulness into your daily life – even when it feels as though you don’t have time to stop. Mindfulness is adaptable to your situation. Through regular practice you can find the best form of mindfulness to suit your lifestyle. This is what we call the art of mindfulness.
Possibly the most straightforward practice is to focus on your breathing. Try it now, while reading this blog. Take a moment to sit back in your chair until you feel comfortable. Inhale for one, two, three, four, five seconds and exhale for one, two, three, four, five seconds. Inhale for one, two, three, four, five seconds and exhale for one, two, three, four, five seconds. One more time; inhale for one, two, three, four, five seconds and exhale for one, two, three, four, five seconds.
What you achieved just now was a form of mindful meditation. You quietened your thoughts to focus on the process of breathing in that present moment. By slowing your breath you would have reduced your heart rate – which, in turn, would have lowered the natural release of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. In that moment, you provided yourself with vital self-care.
The art of mindfulness in your daily schedule can bring calm to your day.
It’s a tool to be used whenever you need it. You can bring mindfulness into your chores and routines such as washing up dishes, while on the school pick up, or even having dinner. You don’t just have to focus on your breathing either. You can, for example, concentrate on the feeling of hot water as on your skin while showering, paying close attention to the tingling sensation against where the water trickles. Or take time to consider the food on your plate, the texture of each mouthful against your tongue and the natural elements of water, sunshine, soil that have gone into growing the ingredients. The key is to focus on that moment.
By Karen Edwards, Author of 365 Days of Mindful Meditations (Summersdale)