Are you Mind-Full or Mindful?

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What does it really mean to be a mindful person? Mindfulness, the practice of cultivating a focused awareness on the present moment, is both a daily habit and a lifelong process. It is most commonly practised and cultivated through yoga and meditation, although being mindful does not necessarily require a yoga or meditation practice. These two practises are supportive avenues to allow dedicated time to harness mindfulness in a hectic lifestyle.

Mindfulness is the awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, non-judgementally in the present moment. That sounds pretty simple. It is, however when we start paying attention to how much we really pay attention, half of the time our minds are all over the place and we have a very hard time sustaining attention to what is right in front of us. In our culture of over-stimulation, overwork, burnout, and exhaustion, where we are incessantly connected and distracted from most things that are truly important in our lives – how do we tap into our creativity, our wisdom, our capacity for wonder, our well-being and our ability to connect with what we really value for ourselves?

Mindfulness isn’t just something you practice during a 60-90 minute morning yoga or meditation session. It can be incorporated throughout your everyday life by simply paying a little more attention to your daily activities as you are performing them. Mindfulness starts to get really interesting when we can start to integrate it into everyday life.

Remember, mindfulness means to be present, in the moment. And if you can do it sitting on a chair, then you can do it while waiting for your coffee to be ready, while drinking a cup of tea, eating your food, holding the baby, working at the computer or having a chat with a friend? All of these are opportunities to apply mindfulness. To be aware.

There are some easy activities to do to support mindfulness —

1. Go for a quiet walk. Preferably off the main road. Breathe in, take in the environment directly in front of you, then breathe out releasing tension. Just note when the mind wanders off, then bring it back to gently observing the path in front of you.

2. Pay attention to your breathing. Catch yourself when you hold your breath (usually a sign of tension), then release the breath.

3. Pay attention to your breathing. Focus your attention on the breath. A simple mantra – “Breathe in, this is my in-breath. Breathe out, this is my out-breath.” When you do this, the mental chatter ceases, and you bring yourself to the present.

4. Have a healthy relationship with your mobile device. Set (and keep) specific parameters for usage. This might mean making a point never to start or end the day checking emails (and maybe even keeping one’s phone in a separate room while sleeping), or choosing to unplug on weekends, or choosing to unplug/ switch off the phone when you go on vacation.

More and more research legitimises and supports mindful practise as an extremely effective intervention for a wide range of physical and mental health problems. And as a direct way to manage stress.

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