by Zara Mohammed, Lifestyle Columnist
Published in Lifestyle on 30th August, 2018
It can be hard to describe and understand what the term "Mindfulness" means, because it is an experience or a feeling, and these can be difficult to put into words.
A simple way to understand Mindfulness is to compare it to meditation. Both of these things are essentially about achieving a state of conscious awareness in the present moment. So let's explore this idea in more depth.
We live in a fast-paced world where everything is constantly moving, developing and changing around us. Our lives tend to be about movement, moving from one task to the next, from one person to the next, and from one place to the next. It is easy to get caught up in all of this movement and forget to just be still amidst it all and reflect on our selves, and on our lives.
A Mindful approach to life helps us to slow down, reflect and ultimately understand our experiences and ourselves better, which in turn helps us to enjoy our lives more and connect to our experiences on a deeper and more conscious level.
One of the important aspects of Mindfulness is learning to pay closer attention to our sensory experience of the world around us. We can do this by paying attention to all of our five senses so that we can enjoy a fully rounded, and more pleasurable experience of our everyday activities. This can also help us to feel more grounded and connected to things, places and people.
When you pay attention not only to what you know and think, but also what you see hear, smell, touch and taste you are able to form more potent memories, which helps to enrich your experience of life.
Mindfulness is also about being aware of how we feel and what we are thinking in the moment when things are actually happening. We spend a lot of time thinking about things that have already happened or things that are going to happen, but try thinking about what is happening right now in front of you. When you think about how you feel in the moment, you have more power and control over the outcomes of the things that are happening to you in your life.
When you begin to see, feel and think about what is happening in the moment, there will be positive changes in the ways in which you see yourself and the way you live your life.
This is because when you live in the moment you experience all of the things you previously took for granted afresh. You also become more aware of your thought processes and the impact that negative thought patterns can have on you. You can only really begin to see these when you step out of your bubble and start living more mindfully.
Mindful living can help to alleviate stress and anxiety, because it encourages you to process and respond to your thoughts on a more objective level, helping you to analyse situations and think of solutions rather than focussing on worrying and overthinking.
Mindful thinking helps to structure your thoughts in a way that helps to clear your mind, leaving you free to enjoy life and be more productive and positive.
Leading a more mindful life takes conscious effort in the beginning, because it is a new habit, and you are making your brain work in a different way than it is used to. Here are 3 tips to help you be more mindful on a daily basis and get more out of your life.
Learn to connect more consciously with your surrounding by paying attention to the ways in which things make you feel. Learn to listen and absorb information through all five of your senses. Stop switching off and going into autopilot. Take a deep breath and observe your surroundings.
Tip: Take yourself to a familiar place, or walk a familiar route, but take the time to experience it in a more mindful way. Clear your mind of thoughts and only pay attention to the thoughts that arise and which are related to your present moment. It can be useful to take a notebook or journal to jot down the things that you notice. Connecting to your experiences like this will make mundane activities like going to work feel fresh, new and interesting. Life will become full of new discoveries.
Often it is easier to repeat what we already know. It can save time and energy to go for options that are tried and tested, but this won't add to your enriched and mindful experience of life. Begin to consciously try new things in your life. If you find that you always gravitate to sit downstairs on the bus, try sitting on the upper deck for a change. Pick something new off the menu for lunch. Walk a different route to get to your destination. Pick a book up in a genre you wouldn't normally choose.
When you alter your regular choices you give yourself the opportunity to discover new things to enjoy and get a different view of your world.
It is easy to get bogged down in how you feel when your thoughts come flooding in and you don't know how to get rid of them. A good practice to help you take control of your thoughts is to name them.
For example, if you are thinking about failing a job interview, rather than allow yourself to pick yourself to bits by continuing to think about all the reasons you might not get the job, simply name what you are feeling - "anxiety". Now it is easier to let go of your thoughts because you know what is causing them, not a genuine fear that you're not good enough for the job, but a simple emotion called anxiety. Understand it, accept it, and move on from it.
Mindfulness is all about improving the quality of your life, taking control of your thoughts and actions, and living more consciously. It's easy to do, and you can start today!