Mindfulness Mini Series 1 - The Basics - What's it all about?
Updated: Feb 20
For the first in my Mindfulness mini series I' thought I'd set out some of the basics.
Mindfulness is a word that is banded about a lot. But what does it actually mean?
Most of us lead incredibly busy lives. Our minds are full and active most of the time. This often means that we aren't focused on what is happening around us. We are easily distracted and can become disconnected with parts of our lives.
Mindfulness is the act of fully attending to what's happening around us, to what we are doing, to where we are, to the people we are with. Sounds simple doesn't it? But most of us don't do this, our minds flit from one thing to another and back again. We might be worrying about something that could potentially happen next week, dwelling on something that happened last month or feeling anxious about something we've got to do later the same day. We could be consumed by anger, regret, jealousy, competitiveness. All of these feelings can take our attention away from being fully focused on the here and now.
Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are,
what we are feeling and what we are doing
Some of us are alive, but don't really know it. We aren't properly experiencing life. We are just going through the motions. When we allow ourselves to be mindful, to breathe deeply and feel every emotion that we are feeling (good and not so good) and soak up what is around us - we feel more alive, more in control of our thoughts and how we react and respond to them.
It's not some bizarre ritual or a class you attend and then forget about. We all have the capacity to be mindful. It's not necessary to make big changes to our lives to accommodate it but it's a way of living that brings more contentment. Don't just take my word for it, there is a lot of evidence to support the positive effects of living mindfully.
Mindfulness is a great source of happiness.
Have you ever eaten something and not noticed or remembered how it tasted? When eating your favourite ice cream in a mindful way you are conscious of it. This ice cream that is in front of you - how it looks, how it tastes and how the flavours change or develop whilst you are eating it. Seemingly simple things can bring great joy and happiness. Mindfulness brings our awareness to the forefront of our minds. It releases happy hormones - chemicals in our brains, which support our digestion, lowers our blood pressure, as well as releasing tension and pain.
Mindfulness should be treated as a quality that every single person already possesses,
rather than something difficult to obtain.
.What are the Mindfulness basics? 5 steps to consider
1. Being fully present and in the moment
If you are fully present you are aware of everything that is going on around you - what you are seeing, hearing, doing, feeling at that moment in time. You try not to be consumed by pre-conceived ideas about what is going to happen in the future or worries about the present.
2. Be open to experience
You welcome change - new experiences, thoughts and feelings rather than being afraid of them. You're aware that they are all merely sensations that will pass and the next moment could be different. You embrace and recognise that feelings can change over time which help you to be less afraid of new experiences, especially if they don't work out.
3. Being non-judgemental
You try not to judge your own feelings as right, wrong, good or bad. You know that all feelings have a purpose and that they are just feelings, rather than them actually being you. They don't define you. Being non judgemental of yourself is the first step, the next is to extend this to other people, things and situations. You actively listen and really try to understand, not only to your own experiences, but those of others. You are able to see things from different perspectives and realise that other peoples actions have reasons behind them too. You live with compassion and an open mind.
4. Able to connect
If you are able to feel grateful for what you have you are more likely to be able to connect positively with others. This is because you radiate positivity which attracts other people to you. It's important to understand that most people want to be happy, loved, secure and kind as well as knowing that there will be reasons behind when someone doesn't act in this way. This allows you to connect with others who are not openly positive, without it affecting your own energy.
You view and accept reality as it is and don't feel like a victim or moan about unfairness. You try to accept reality as it happens and know that they are the best judges of what is right for them.
We all have the ability to be mindful... If this concept is new to you I urge you to try it. Start with concentrating on your breath - breathing in and out slower than you normally would. This will naturally lower your heart rate. Next, when you are outside avoid plugging in your headphones or airpods and instead pay attention to what is around you - can you hear any birds singing, are there any beautiful flowers around, is the sun shining? This is a good start..
I'll share some more hints and tips soon.