Mindfulness isn’t just about being in the now, or living in the moment. Mindfulness is a particular way of paying attention to the present moment. With intention and with certain attitudes, such as non-judgement, acceptance, curiosity and non-doing.
Mindfulness can be practiced in formal meditations where we train our minds to focus on one object, such as the breath. Every time the mind wanders, which it will, we practice bringing the attention back to the breath. Repeating this practice enables us to train our brains to be more focused and will allow us to be more present in our daily lives. And if we are more present, then we can make more conscious choices.
We can also practice mindfulness informally or as I call it ‘off the cushion’. This might mean intentionally bringing our attention to certain activities throughout the day.
Say when you shower…
You hop in the shower and you find yourself using the opportunity to think about what you have to achieve at work that day. You picture yourself sat at your desk going through your emails, imagining yourself sat in that meeting and prioritising your to do list. Good use of your time in the shower right? But before you know it, your hands seem to have automatically washed your body with that new citrus smelling shower gel and you didn’t even notice. You are half way though drying yourself with your towel when you realise that you haven’t been paying attention.
But what if you compare that to the following experience; whilst in the shower you pay full attention to the droplets of water falling onto your skin. What if you smelt the shower gel as if for the first time, letting the aroma fill your nostrils? Exploring the scent with your nose. What if you paid attention to the parts of your body being touched by the water, contrasting that with sensations of the parts that weren’t? If you felt the touch of your hands or sponge on your skin as you washed your body? If you adopted an attitude of gratitude for the pleasure of such a luxury of a warm shower and how good it felt?
How would you then feel? How would your experience differ? Would you be in a better or worse mood when saying goodbye to your family that morning as you leave for work?
Mindfulness practice has been shown to lower stress levels and well as blood pressure. And you can tell your boss that mindfulness also increases productivity at work too.
Benefits of mindfulness reach far and include:
- Reducing chronic pain
- Lowering anxiety levels
- Reducing relapse in depression
- Improving compassion for self and others
- Enhancing creativity
- Improved sleep
- Improved your general wellbeing
- Increased emotional intelligence
- And much much more