When I first heard about mindfulness, I thought it was all about focusing on the breath. My anxiety was high at the time and focusing on my breathing only made the anxiety worse! So, I thought, no way, not for me.
I was properly introduced to mindfulness with my daughter whose therapist thought it may be good for her. We went on a course over 5 evenings – Monday to Friday – and my daughter was completely bored, and I loved it. Let me just say my daughter now loves it too
For me mindfulness is living in the moment. Not worrying about the future or dwelling on the past but acknowledging and appreciating what I am doing there and then. Do I always remember to be mindful in every situation, no of course not, but it’s something I can always bring myself back to.
One of the exercises we were tasked with was to look at the world around us as we were driving or on the bus. How many times have we got in the car and driven somewhere only to arrive and not remember the journey because our minds have been preoccupied? Or sat on the bus, headphones in worrying about the day ahead.
Next time you are in the car (driving safely) look at the world as you drive. The colour of the sky, the bends in the road, the green grass verges or the people on the pavement. Pay attention to what you are experiencing in the moment. This is more powerful if you are on the bus and can watch the world out of the window. The buildings, the people, fields, animals and the sky – the list goes on. Look at these things and notice the beauty in the world.
Mindfulness also taught me to be more aware of my thoughts and feelings and to deal with them as they occur. Again, I don’t always practice this very well, but I keep trying. I do sometimes still get caught up in my thoughts, but I don’t overthink and worry like I once did.
By being more aware I have lowered my stress levels and I can relax more. I don’t plan ahead a whole lot either. I always had lists for everything, and I mean everything, but it was to give me a sense of control and keep me on track. Now, I only have a list for Christmas gifts, and I keep these lists and look back on them like a memory.
I am more positive, and I appreciate the small things. One of the things I love doing of an evening is sitting in my lounge, my candles all lit and my salt lamp on, and just sitting. Just watching the flames flickering, and the glow from my salt lamp. I feel such a sense of peace from that. I appreciate the moment, and I smile when I hear my kids chatting upstairs.
Mindfulness has definitely helped with my anxiety. Living moment to moment and seeing everything with a fresh perspective, an almost childlike wonder has let me come back to experiencing life rather than just slogging through it.
My most mindful place apart from my home – My kids and I always go to the same place each year for a holiday. It’s a holiday full of activities, good food and amazing nature. I always notice how completely mindful I am when I am there. It’s so easy to live in the moment. Maybe it’s because the daily structure of life isn’t there, I don’t know. I see the leaves on each of the trees, the birds, squirrels and deer. I walk a lot and really enjoy it as there is always so much going on in the forest. We play sports and do craft activities like painting. I taste every mouthful of food from the lovely restaurants or cafes and I loves the sensory aspects of the spa, the steam rooms, the salt rooms and even the ice rub.
Next time you go out, really look at the world around you and see what you notice. The next time you have a piece of chocolate, close your eyes and acknowledge what it tastes like and feels like. Look at the things you do each day and try and be there in the moment, even if it’s housework! There are so many ways to be mindful. I love listening to music, most types of music, but especially music I can dance to. I can hear all the words and I can move to the beat and the sound gives me such a sense of joy. I need to do this more.
Do you practice mindfulness? How has it helped you? What could you do to be more mindful?