by Zara Mohammed, Lifestyle Columnist
Published in Lifestyle on 4th July, 2019
Mindfulness is the natural human state of being fully present in the moment. This is a very basic human ability, and yet because of the kind of world we live in, we often find ourselves forgetting to be mindful of where we are, how we feel, what we are doing, and what is going on around us.
Have you ever felt like you are on a conveyor belt moving around the city along familiar routes without even having to think about your journey? We limit our conscious awareness to the most basic level we need in order to stay safe, and even then it is common to see people walking down the road staring at a mobile phone screen instead of ahead at the people walking towards them on the street.
People tend to become more mindful and able to appreciate their surroundings and experience their environment with all of their senses when they are feeling relaxed. Think of how you feel when you are on holiday, or when the sun is out and you go to sit in a park.
You are probably much more aware of your environment and the people in it when you are feeling relaxed and can appreciate the beauty and interest of your surroundings. But because we are rarely relaxed in our fast-paced modern lives, mindfulness is something that we need to actually practice in order to benefit from it.
You could think of mindfulness as being like the opposite of multitasking. When you experience too much at once without taking the time to appreciate each individual aspect of the one thing with all of your senses and consciousness, you essentially dilute the overall experience.
Let's take the example of eating your meal. If you eat too quickly, cramming your mouth full with a mixture of the different foods on your plate, all whilst sitting slumped on the sofa watching the television, your experience of eating your meal has disappeared and instead what you are experiencing is "zoning out in front of the TV". If you eat your meal mindfully and allow yourself to focus all of your senses onto the one task, you are able to fully appreciate your meal, what it tastes like, what it looks like, how it makes you feel, and more.
If you want to start practicing mindfulness in your life, try these 3 simple tips:
But you can make a conscious effort to reconnect to what it means to be human, and what it means to be you. All you have to do is pay more attention to the information you get from all five of your senses. Start taking more notice of other people too, and think about what people's body language is communicating. When you increase your awareness you may also start to see a noticeable shift in your intuition and understanding of people, the world, and of yourself.
You are finally able to see beyond yourself and show empathy to the situations of others, which helps you to be mindful about how you behave and the decisions that you make. Practicing kindness is the perfect way to channel the positive energy you have gained from your mindfulness into something productive that will make you and others feel good.
The practice of mindfulness has many benefits. It can improve your mental and physical health, helping things like depression and anxiety, and physical ailments caused by stress, helping to relax your body and stop you from holding tension in aggravated places. It can also change the way you think and help you to grow.
When you carve a place for mindfulness in your everyday life it helps to slow you down, and this is a very good thing. Slowing down allows you to notice and appreciate things you might otherwise have missed.
Sometimes our heads are so full of thoughts and tasks that we can easily become overwhelmed and forget what to prioritise. This leads to stress and poor health. Slowing it all right down means that you are less likely to miss the point of all the things you do, the bigger picture.
When you focus on the here and now it means that you are not thinking too far forward into the future and worrying, or too far backwards into the past and feeling regret or guilt. The here and now is the best place to be if you want to make the most out of your life, because life is happening here and now, not in the past or in the future.
Focusing on what is in front of you also means focussing on who is in front of you, or in your life right now. It is good to form strong connections with the people who are important to you, and by being more mindful of whom the important people in your life are, you are better able to appreciate them, and get the best out of your relationships with people.