Mindfulness is often criticised and has been branded as being ‘fluffy’ and ‘hippie-like’.
I will hold my hands up here and admit, I was one of those who absolutely hated the idea of mindfulness. Thought it was a load of twaddle. I understand it may not work for everyone, that is okay. We are all at the end of the day, very different. But, once finding mindful moments and really giving it my all, I was somewhat converted. Finding those moments in the day just to acknowledge what is going on, what emotions you could be experiencing and tuning into the world around you.
I want to go over how you can include that mindful moment throughout the day and how it can help calm some of those racing thoughts.
I make sure I include these mindful moments as often as I can, engage all of my senses and experience the task I am doing.
One example is when I am in the shower; I start asking myself loads of ‘I wonder’ questions. I wonder what the water feels like on my skin, spending a moment experiencing that. I wonder what the bubbles smell like, I wonder what sounds I can hear. Noticing the way, the water droplets join together on the shower screen and trickle delicately down. Fully engaging in the task, anxious thoughts may try and intrude, that is okay, I simply acknowledge the thoughts, if I try and force them away, I find they come back stronger, somewhat mad that I am ignoring them. So I simply acknowledged it, say to myself ‘Park that for now, I am engaging in this task’ and then bring myself back to the present moment. Some days I spend longer parking other thoughts then I seem to engage in the tasks, this is a good indicator that things are beginning to get on top of me and I need to look closer at my overall wellbeing.
Another mindful activity I try and engage in is day to day tasks I usually find boring, washing up for example. Again, asking all of those, ‘I wonder’ questions. I wonder what the temperature of the water is like, I wonder how the items I am washing up feels, I wonder what sounds I can hear, I wonder if I can still smell whatever it is I have just cooked. Again, engaging all of the senses and fully exploring and focusing on the task that you are doing. The thoughts will try and barge their way into the mindful moment, again, don’t try and push them away, acknowledge the thought, then put it down to pick up later.
Another mindful moment and personally my favourite, is a mindful walk. It is so easy when walking to be so focused on other things, on our phones perhaps. When walking try and take in those surroundings, again using the senses and ‘I wonder’ questions. Taking in the activity and also the beautiful surroundings. ‘I wonder how that tree got there, did some one plant it, or perhaps it was a small seed, hundreds of years ago. I wonder how the sun/rain feels on the skin, what does it actually feel like. I wonder what I can hear? Noticing the small details of the environment, a small flower growing amongst the grass, an unusual chimney pot in a row of houses, a colourful front door maybe? Also noticing yourself, how do you feel, what emotion are you experiencing? Is your heart beating quite quickly from the walk, do you need to slow down? Taking time to take in the surroundings and listening to what your body is telling you.
Mindful eating is also another personal favourite. Quite often we rush through our meals so we can move on with the next thing on our to do list, not actually enjoying or appreciating the food. What does the packaging look and feel like, does it make a sound as you are opening it? What does it smell like? How does that first bite taste? What flavours are you experiencing? What is the texture like? Slowing down the meals and appreciating food in a whole new way. Making time to be in the present moment and again, engaging all of those senses on the activity. Maybe even having the conversations with others around the table, what are they eating? Encouraging mindfulness and leading the peaceful moment.
A different type of mindfulness is tuning into your emotions. We spend life on autopilot if we are not careful, go from task to task, from work to home to cooking tea to sorting out the kids to bedtimes. We do not find the time to acknowledge our own feelings and emotions, what are you actually feeling? Every time I wash my hands I pause for a few seconds, taking in a really deep breath and as I breath out I ask myself, what am I feeling? Right now? In this present moment, what emotion is present. Tuning into my own needs, quite often I do feel stressed, so I try and acknowledge this and then plan in some time for some self-care. Acknowledging how I am feeling and making sure I am not burning out.
Finding a mindful moment throughout the day does not have to take loads of time, quite often we are already doing the tasks, just not engaging fully with the task. Rushing through it and not appreciating what you are experiencing. Rushing through things and not stopping to check in with how you are really feeling. I think it is time we tuned into those emotions more and acknowledged our pattern of thoughts. Make time to smell the roses and look for beauty we normally ignore.
The world is full of so many wonderful things.