What Is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is defined as the art of being present in the mind. It is an ancient art that has been practiced for as long as humanity. To practice mindfulness is to bring the conscious awareness of your mind to the present moment, to be mindful of your thought patterns, fully engaged in your actions and immersed in lifes experiences. Whether that be as simple as walking, eating, cooking, reading, writing, having a conversation, spending time with loved ones, practising self-care, engaging with a hobby, looking after the home, working, tidying and organising; in every day-day normal behaviours is where mindfulness should be practiced, exactly where life is happening- in the now.
No matter what the moment looks like, mindfulness gifts you the choice and awareness to fully experience it for all the joys and simple pleasures it has to offer. You are not neither here nor there, half listening, semi-conscious, worrying about yesterday and over-thinking about the future- but fully embodied in the peacefulness of the present moment for exactly what it is. Time moves as fast as you do, and with mindful practice you have the power to slow it down, to be in the bliss of the now. With mindful awareness brings contentment, clarity and calm. The beauty of accepting each moment for what it is with gratitude.
Physiology Of Mindful Living
Mindfulness training has shown to increase activity in the pre-frontal cortex of the brain which is associated with positive emotions, feeling calm, compassionate and happy. The brain and thinking patterns can be reshaped by adopting mindful practice on a basis of repetition. It is key for stress management, mood improvement, and the increase of optimism and self-control. When mindfulness is practiced through meditation, studies have shown that the brain can actually change when a meditative state is regularly achieved. The brains ‘flight or fight’ centre known as the amygdala shrinks. This primal region of the brain, associated with fear and emotion, is involved of the initiation of the body’s response to stress. As the amygdala shrinks, the pre-frontal cortex associated with higher order brain functions such as awareness, concentration and decision making becomes thicker. The connection between the amygdala and the rest of the brains gets weaker, while the connections between areas associated with attention and concentration gets stronger. Meditation is a beneficial way to practice mindfulness.
Use mindfulness to create ritual into your everyday living, and acts of self-care in your daily routine. By setting an intention beforehand, you are bringing mindful awareness and healing energy to the experience you are about to create. Eg- I choose to be mindful with love and gratitude in this present moment.
Spend time in nature
Listen to healing music
Walks in nature
Connection with a loved one
Engaging with others
Listen to the birds sing
Practice self compassion
Cooking and meal time
+ When being mindful leave aside all digital distractions. To be mindful is to full embody yourself in one task at at time with intention and enjoy every moment of the experience.
Whatever experience you are engaging in, bring your full attention and focus to the present moment. Draw your minds attention away from ruminating thoughts, and bring the focus to your senses. Sensory engagement is key for becoming mindful and activating conscious awareness of the present moment. Below are two key examples of how you can practice mindfulness in every day living.
Mindful eating should be practiced with no distractions- phones, TV, reading or writing but with your full attention on the food you are about to nourish yourself with. This is a sacred time of the day.
Always make sure you are seated to eat, eating when walking or standing up causes imbalances to the digestion and the mind.
Eat your meal in a conscious environment.
Do not eat when your upset, angry or emotional.
Intention: I choose to nourish and heal every cell in my body with the nutrious food i am about to eat. I am so grateful for this moment.
Bring your awareness to the smells, colours and textures of the food.
When eating slowly and mindfully with each bite, bring your awareness to the different tastes, flavours and textures.
Notice how the food is making you feel? Do you feel grounded and energised? A wholesome and nutrious meal balanced with the key six tastes will always leave you feeling satisfied.
Stop eating when the body signals it is full so there is space for digestion and you will not become sluggish and lethargic.
Taking time for mindful walking without any digital distractions is deeply healing for the mind, body and circadian rythm.
Any time you are walking mindfulness can be practiced, whether you are on the way to your daily commute, walking in a park or out connecting with nature, put the phones away and get grounded.
Intention: I choose to spend time outside in the fresh air to heal and refresh my body and mind.
Notice how your body changes from being indoors to outdoors in the fresh air and nature, do you feel lighter or more alert?
Notice the sensations of the breath and what it feels like to be breathing fresh air into your lungs, and the feel of their air and temperature against your skin.
Look up at the sky, take in the vast greatness of planet earth, notice any clouds passing by or birds flying above you. Notice how mindful and peaceful nature moves, and remember you are a part of nature.
Notice the sensations of your feet on the ground as you are walking, feel the earth below you supporting you with every step.
Take in the visual stimulation of the surrounding you are in, notice colours, textures and sounds.
Take a moment to express gratitude to your body that works so hard to give you the energy so you have the freedom to move and walk, and to nature for giving you life force to heal.