I’m sure you’re aware that mindfulness and meditation are connected however, you don’t have to sit on the floor legs crossed oommmingg away with zero thoughts in your head.
That was the image I used to conjure up whenever I’d think about meditating. Dull, tiresome and damn right impossible. Like seriously, have you ever tried to COMPLETELY empty your head of thoughts!? You’ll just about get there and be nicely relaxed when that little voice pops up and says ‘Chips for tea? No Mash. No roasties!…. Stop thinking. Just stop it. It’s not that hard… Ooooohhh I wanna DANCE with somebooddyyy’
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Well.. you get my drift. However last year I had a real crack at meditation and while I am still by far a novice, I’ve found something which completely shifted the way I think about it! If you haven’t tried the app Headspace look it up now and give it a whirl! Using the Headspace app allowed me to learn a lot about how to meditate. That its not about silencing your mind, but acknowledging the thoughts which drift in and out, and allowing them to do so.
But. As I was saying before I was rudely interrupted – Sorry Whitney. We we always love you! – Mindfulness is more than sitting quietly and relaxing.
It is about being present, appreciating the moment and doing things with purpose. So many times we let thoughts come into our head and will mull them over, trying to work them out, subconsciously labelling them as good or bad thoughts. No thought is really good or bad; they all have a place and are there for a reason.
Being Mindful is purposefully being aware of your thoughts, feelings and surroundings without judgement.
And there are so many benefits to practicing Mindfulness. We can gain improved emotion regulation and reduced stress & anxiety – something that’s especially important to me! Mindfulness can help our focus and ultimately enable us to make better informed decisions which lead to improved wellbeing and happiness.
Best of all for me, it makes me a better parent. I’m more in touch with why I’m getting frustrated with my children. I’m more aware of their behaviour and mine, leaving me able to defuse or avoid volatile situations. Most of all though, I’m able to just be in the moment more.
How To Be Mindful
Mindfulness in itself isn’t complicated but it takes practice, time and effort to get to a point where it comes naturally. The key is starting slowly and building habits gradually overtime. Just like a diet, if its too extreme to fast, it becomes a chore, a stress, another urrrr I have that to do today as well, which we don’t want.
I want you to think of mindfulness in the same way as you think of brushing your teeth. It’s a necessity. If you don’t brush your teeth, they rot, decay and you could end up with an empty mouth. No-one wants an empty mouth. I myself had to have a tooth removed this year and I was so embarrassed about it! Mindfulness is for your sense of self and mental health as tooth brushing is for your teeth. It’s a simply act which doesn’t really take a lot of time but needs to be implemented daily in order to be as effective and protective as we need it to be.
Now I can’t promise you a state of complete bliss. Mindfulness is all about bringing your mind to the present moment, with awareness and acceptance that your thoughts will wander but simply acknowledging they’re there and moving them to one side.
Do you have a really comfy, relaxing spot in your home? For me, its in our bedroom, when I have a big cosy armchair I initially bought to sit and breastfeed our youngest. It definitely worked for that! But it’s also become a place of reflection for me.
Your comfy, relaxing spot is the perfect place to begin your Mindfulness journey; yes, I’m aware of how cliched and hippy I sound but stick with me! Take 5 minutes out of your day and go to your comfy space.
Sit and relax. Pay attention to your body and posture; feet flat on the floor if possible, upright stable back but not tensed. Just comfortable.
Now simply breath. Don’t try and control it or force a rhythm which may be your natural reaction. Just allow your breath to come and ago freely while you pay close attention to it.
How does the air feel? What smells do you notice? What can you hear? What can you taste?
The Little Moments. The Little Things. They Aren’t Little.Jon Kabet-Zinn
The key to mindfulness is to acknowledge, and notice, all these things are there, but not allow your mind to dwell on them. The same practice applies to your thoughts. It’s not about emptying your mind but noticing when your attention has shifting and gently ushering your focus back to your breath.
It’s like guiding a small child down an aisle filled with sweets with Mum or Dad waiting at the end! They will get distracted so we need to support them in regaining their focus.
How To Apply Mindfulness To Daily Life
- Notice your surroundings
- Take a Moment before Speaking
- Have ‘unplugged’ time each day with no tech or social media – even 30 minutes is a start!
- Give conversations all of your attention. Really listen and hear to what is being said.
- Stop watching the clock
- Pause when you think negatively about yourself, and turn that thought into a positive
- Be conscious of your breathing as much as possible.
And so you can now go and practice mindfulness in the safe knowledge that you do not have to spend hours sat silently cross legged on the floor. You do not have to do anything, obviously, but I guarantee once you introduce mindfulness into your life, you’ll be glad you did.
Since I started being more mindful I breath deeper when I’m in open spaces. I notice the smell of fireworks going off in the distance. I imprint those tiny lines on my boys faces when they laugh to the depths of my memory. I’m less critical of myself and more relaxed. As a result I have more FUN with my children. I’m more attentive to Mr.HIMA. Most of all – get the sick bucket ready! – I feel more intune and at peace with myself. I’m better able to recognise when I’m struggling and cope with it, whether it be stress, anxiety, frustration, anger or sadness.
Have you tried taking 5 minutes out of your day to sit and be practice mindfulness? What did you notice about your surroundings? Let me know in the comments! I can’t wait to hear from you.