Why mindfulness is so super cool
I started reading about the mind, mind management and mindfulness in my mid-twenties. I was on a quest to ‘find’ myself and came across the importance of mind management when striving to understand and create ourselves and our missions in life.
Mindfulness is another tool, originating from Buddhist teachings, that can help us manage our minds and find that much needed ‘headspace’ in this busy and over stimulated world. When we are mindful, we live in the moment connected with our body and feelings and move away from the sometimes intense depths of the mind, creating the space to balance ourselves.
How it helps
Mindfulness is a great way to learn to reconnect to ourselves and be conscious of the 'mindchatter' that goes on unnoticed in our heads, clouding our present moment awareness and judgement. Susan Grandfield says, "This does not mean we do not think, have empty minds or only have positive thoughts. Practising mindfulness will enable us to be consciously aware of what we think or experience (either following a thought - negative or positive - or deciding to let it go), enabling us to make the choice as to how we respond (or not) to situations and gain deeper connection to ourselves through acknowledging and understanding our feelings."
This in return enables you to make a choice about how you will feel throughout the day, whatever happens! Mindfulness is awareness and choice, enabling us to focus, gain clarity, learn patience, reignite our curiosity and learn the ability to let go.
Mindfulness and goal achievement
Mindfulness also helps you to create a balance with the goals that you are striving towards. Goals are vital in moving us towards our aspirations as they give us direction, focus and motivate us. However, goals need to be malleable and adjustable. As we grow and adjust to our own development, that brings with it new situations we need to stay aware to the impact the present moment has on our goal. If we are firmly focused on our goals, we do not allow our goals to grow, develop and even change direction. Mindfulness can bring you back to the present moment. It can help us to let go of the stresses that are involved in change and working towards our dreams and aspirations and give us the space to think creatively and clearly. The mind needs that space back to rejuvenate itself to enable optimal and conscious decision making towards our goals and the ability to adjust.
There already exists research into the positive effects of mindfulness on our body and mind and interestingly, on our reptilian part of the brain (situated at the brainstem surrounding the top of the spinal cord). I find this really fascinating. Mindfulness is said to calm the impulsive reactions of the primitive part of our brain that controls the ’flight, fight or freeze’ responses, that can sometimes take hold of us in varying degrees of severity. These days the NHS, Google, the US Army and the UK Parliament are already using mindfulness tools for various purposes, including stress, post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.
Many have, myself included, experienced the benefits of practising being mindful. I used to feel overwhelmed by my own thoughts until I found a way to access, what I then used to call ‘headspace’, where my brain was able to let go of thoughts, especially those negative ones, without judgement, rejuvenate itself to be ready for another wonderful and mindful day.
Connecting to our purpose
Learning how to be mindful is finely interwoven with the different ways of understanding (finding) and creating yourself too. It enables us to gain a clarity into ourselves that enables us to make sense of what it is we want out of this life, instead of following dogma. Through mindfulness we are able to centre ourselves and be clearer on what it is we want and why it is we what we want. Mindfulness connects us to that authentic and unique self inside that allows us to be who we are and in return guide us, without worldly interference, to our purpose.
The skill of being mindful
Mindfulness is a skill in itself and needs to be learned and practised regularly. Here are a few easy ways to practise mindfulness daily.
A really easy way to start practising mindfulness is to start noticing what is going on around you without judgement. When you are walking to the train in the morning, start by noticing things you encounter on your way (a bird signing, a smile). If you catch yourself starting to think about your to do list, just revert back to noticing what is happening around you, not questioning the meaning or reasons of what you are observing and being judgement free.
This can then be transferred to a 10-minute mindfulness session at home where you close your eyes, sit upright, feet parallel, hands in your lap and start to notice your berating. Follow your breath as it moves in and out of your lungs. Breathing deep into your belly and relaxing your belly. Breathing in to each body part. One at a time. Thoughts will appear, but kindly revert your focus back to your breathing. Then move your attention to feeling all your body parts, starting from your toes all the way to your finger tips and back to the neck. Feel where tension lies and relax these parts of your body, breathing into them so they relax.
Be kind to yourself and rest assured that with practise, less thoughts will enter your mindfulness zone. Susan Grandfield encourages us to spend at least 10 minutes a day practising mindfulness and increasing it as we grow. A great app to use is Calm. It has really great mindfulness and meditation techniques and sessions for all levels and different time spans. I love it!
I have found mindfulness a huge relief, enabling me to connect to my inner wisdom in the silence of my mind connected to my body. Once you master the mindfulness practises you will notice how your mind yearns for these ‘relaxing’ times and is able to outside of the sessions to revert faster to a space where you allow yourself to be free from intense thought and instead focusing on the beauty of life.
Happy spring to you all!
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