Over the last few years you may have heard about mindfulness or the importance of being mindful, but what is it and why has it become so popular?
It is said that with technology, social media and the fast pace of life we are now surrounded by, there are so many more demands on us and our attention that, understandably, our mind and attention spans are suffering. With this change comes an increase in our reactivity because it is becoming easier to believe that everything we see, hear or feel we must respond to, without taking the time to take a step back and contemplate our response (or whether or not the situation requires one).
As we deal with the pandemic today, many of us are facing periods of isolation and lockdowns, and with a barrage of reports and updates in the media and opinions on social media, our minds are scattered and put under a huge strain.
Mindfulness is therefore more of a lifeline than ever for us to counteract these negative effects life today. For many of us, we have become so used to multi tasking, we have forgotten what it feels like to focus on one task at a time. Practicing mindfulness however, reminds us of the way we used to be as a child. It is the practice of staying in the now and in this present moment. It is the choice we make not to worry about next week, not to dwell in the past or worry about what a friend said or did.
It is not about being calm or happy throughout your practice, instead it is about focusing 100% of your attention on what you are doing and ignoring other demands on your attention.
If you Google mindfulness, the images you commonly see are of a zen like figure sat meditating, but practicing mindfulness can be anything you choose. We can walk, eat, breathe, listen and be distracted the whole time but we can also do them all mindfully.... We can choose to slow down, pay attention, accept our thoughts and feelings during that moment and choose to just be. For some people, a mindful practice may be walking the dog - fully enjoying the dog's company and your surroundings, for others it may be things like gardening or baking.
By becoming more mindful, we help nurture a sense of self acceptance. In those mindful moments, we don't have to compare ourselves to others or worry about what may or may not happen, we can work on noticing and accepting our feelings and working through them. Not only that but mindfulness has been shown to reduce stress and blood pressure, alleviate anxiety and depression and improve self-esteem and the quality of sleep.
It may seem as though 'mindfulness' is the buzzword of the decade, but we can see that it is a recognition of what many of us may have experienced as being 'in the zone', where you become so engrossed in what you are doing that you look up and hours have flown. For many, it has never been given the recognition it deserves until now, and it is great to see that mindfulness has captured the interest of so many.
Do you have a mindful practice? How has it helped you? As we delve a bit more in to this topic, we'd love to hear your stories of how you use mindfulness in your life.
Until next time x