I’m sure we’ve all heard the term ‘mindfulness’, but what exactly does that mean? In my simplest understanding, mindfulness is being in the present moment. Mindfulness has a positive effect on our lives, especially when it comes to lowering stress and anxiety. It makes sense; if our focus is on the present moment, there is no energy to focus on the past or the future. One of my favourite quotes for understanding the concept of mindfulness is from Lao Tzu (a Chinese philosopher; founder of Taoism)
“If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present”
Makes sense right? I always think that when I am not presently in the present, I am giving up today for tomorrow or yesterday; I’m giving my time to another place in history. So, how can mindfulness be put into action?
Here are some tips to get you started on mindfulness:
Make a morning routine to express gratitude for the day. It doesn’t have to be long, even waking up 15 minutes early to write down all the things you are grateful for can help shift your mind to the present moment.
Morning routines are actually super cool! Once you get into the habit of spending some time with yourself before the busyness of the day begins, that habit can truly shift your life in a positive way. *Stay tuned I feel this can be a separate post all together!
Notice your surroundings
What do you see right in this moment? Are you at a desk, sitting on the couch, laying in bed, what is around you that you didn’t take note of?
Focus on your senses
What do you feel, see, taste, hear, smell? What do your fingers feel, do you hear the buzzing of the refrigerator, what are you sensing all around you? An approach to this is to go from your toes to the top of your head, and just taking note of yourself in the moment.
Do one thing at a time
This one might seem hard, but in today’s world we are always doing more than one thing at a time. We are having dinner but watching TV, we are with our friends, but we’re on our phone, we are walking in nature, but we are taking selfies, snapchats, and instagraming etc., etc., when we focus on what we are doing, and truly put our mind to the present moment, we are being mindful! How cool!
Ditch the phone
Okay, okay, this one is hard I get it. But try even for an hour, put the phone on airplane mode and enjoy where you are. Your phone directly removes you from the present moment. Instead of enjoying dinner with your friends / family / loved one(s), you are taking those moments and offering them to a different space. It’s a tough one to master, but it can be done! My favourite times to ditch the phone is when I have a relaxing bath, read a book, practice guitar, paint, or bake! It takes some time to not think about the phone, waiting patiently in the other room for some attention, but it feels refreshing when I am able to do something without the distraction of my phone.
When you start to wander to the past or jump ahead to the future, refocus on your senses, your surroundings, and what you are currently doing.
Your mind will wander away from the present, and that’s ok! Don’t get upset with yourself, or think that your thoughts aren’t “normal”! It takes a lot of practice to master mindfulness, and even the best of the best have minds that wander. Just take note of it, “oh that was a thought for the future, I acknowledge it and refocus on the present”.
These are just some of the ways that I found helpful when I started living a mindful life. There are LOTS of different ways that mindfulness can be practiced, it may take time to find the one that works best for you, but I assure you, it is a really amazing place to be in 🙂
From my humble experience,