Maybe you’ve heard about mindfulness and want to know what it’s all about? Maybe you’re not sure about the principles behind mindfulness or why it’s so important.
I’m here to breakdown mindfulness into the basics. In this post, you’ll learn more about what mindfulness actually is and why it’s important. My goal is to help you see that mindfulness can be a super practical tool to help you find more joy in your daily life. Let’s get started!
1. Food for the mind
Just as you eat food and take yoga classes to nourish your body, you need to nourish your mind in order to keep it healthy and well. If we think of mindfulness like food for the mind, the concept becomes a lot easier to grasp. Let’s start by talking about what mindfulness is…and is not.
2. Mindfulness is….
Mindfulness is paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, without judgment. What that really means is that mindfulness is a state of being when your body and mind are in the same place at the same time. That means bringing attention to what you are doing and where you are, without worrying about the future or the past.
3. What does mindfulness look like in daily life?
Most of us spend our days half-aware of what we’re doing and what we’re thinking. We live on autopilot and go through our routines without noticing what we’re doing unless our routine is thrown off. Mindfulness develops by noticing mindlessness and using this awareness to be more intentional with your actions. If you can bring more intention to your routines and take time to schedule in mindfulness practices, you can begin to reap the benefits of mindfulness.
4. Why is mindfulness so popular?
In the early 2000s, there was an explosion of research in mindfulness interventions which could explain why mindfulness has become so popular today. In a society where busyness and burnout are the norm, mindfulness offers an alternate experience of living that has been shown to provide enormous benefits.
5. Why practice mindfulness?
Mindfulness helps us to connect with ourselves and others, react productively to stressful situations, and find more balance in our busy lives. Research on mindfulness has shown that there are many benefits to mindfulness, including:
· Decreased stress response
· Increased immune system activity
· Increased capacity for compassion
· Improved ability to regulate emotions
· Increased ability to relax
· Improvements in chronic pain levels
· Improvements in anxiety and depression symptoms
· Improved ability to experience moments with greater clarity and objectivity
Personally, I’ve noticed that mindfulness helps me reduce anxious thoughts, think more clearly, and actually enjoy the little moments in life.
6. Our mind wandering is normal!
Countless people get discouraged when their mind wanders off repeatedly during their mindfulness practice. But this is what all people’s minds do. This is why mindfulness is helpful because mindfulness is a return to the present. Remember this fact: Every time you notice your mind has wandered and you bring it back to the present moment, you are actually practicing and cultivating your mindfulness. So congratulate yourself and….keep practicing!
7. Being mindful doesn’t require you to sit still for a long time
It’s a common misconception that mindfulness requires you to sit still in a room for a long period of time. Mindfulness isn’t all about meditation, although meditation is a way to practice mindfulness. Becoming more mindful doesn't necessarily have to take up more of your precious time! There are so many ways we can practise mindfulness by simply integrating it into activities we already do.
For example, imagine you're going for a walk. Rather than thinking about the groceries you need to buy for dinner, or the big presentation at work next week, you're consciously noticing the environment around you. You're looking at the different colours of the leaves on the trees, listening to the birds calling to each other and inhaling the scent of fresh flowers. You might even tune into the experience of your body by paying attention to your breath, or feel the way your body moves as you walk. Whenever you notice your mind wandering away from the present, you gently bring it back again – try using your senses to root you in the present.
Rather than having a strict mindfulness practice, I simply prefer to live more mindfully. I can be mindful when I'm doing everyday activities, like
· washing the dishes
· giving my loved ones a hug
· commuting in the car
· drinking a cup of tea
· walking my dog
Essentially it means that rather than doing one thing while I’m thinking about something else, I'm more conscious, aware and present of what I'm doing as I do it.
Louise Murray is an Integrated Health Coach with the qualification from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition and a Mindfulness Coach. She looks at nourishing people ON and OFF the plate by coaching them with nutrition advice as well as coaching around 12 different aspects of one’s life to take a truly holistic approach to wellness. Through her work Louise discovered that it’s busy working women, who often put their own needs last after family and career, benefit from her support the most. She helps them fill their lifestyles with healthy balanced choices and live truly well, being the best version of themselves.