In the fast-paced world in which we live, the concept of ‘mindfulness’ and the role it can offer in the way in which we view and live our lives has never been more relevant or important.
Mindfulness is a practice rooted in the ancient traditions of Buddhism, but it has found a new home in the field of modern health and wellness.
Very simply, mindfulness is the art of being fully present in the moment, paying attention to your thoughts, feelings, and sensations, and observing them without trying to change or react to them.
The Benefits of Mindfulness:
- Stress Reduction– mindfulness practices such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga, and tai chi help to activate the relaxation response via stimulation of the Vagus nerve, reducing the stress reaction and helping create feelings of positivity, relaxation, and calm.
- Better Physical and Mental Health– Mindfulness can help clients to feel more in control of their emotions and their situation. It can help to overcome feelings of anxiety and depression, elevate mood, and increase feelings of gratitude and perspective. It can help to reduce blood pressure, it helps improve to quality of sleep, and can boost immunity. Overall, mindfulness has the potential to help reduce stress-related illnesses.
- Enhanced Self-Awareness– Mindfulness encourages clients to explore a deeper understanding of themselves, their choices and the impact this has on their life and their direction. By being fully present in the moment, mindfulness promotes healthier social interactions and stronger relationships.
It also helps you to identify unhealthy habits and patterns, and so helps raise awareness of the consequences of your own actions and how this affects the direction and quality of your life. This then makes it easier to make positive and lasting changes.
How to introduce mindfulness practices to your own life:
- Mindful Waking; start the day with a positive affirmation such as ‘Today will be a good day!’. Take the time on waking to assess how your body is feeling, take note of the sunshine creeping through the curtains, the blessing of the positive people in your life, the safe and comfortable surroundings and set the positive tone for the day ahead. Try and avoid setting a startling alarm tone that wakes you with a frightening jolt, or starting the day by diving straight into the stress of emails, the insecurities of social media or the miserable news headlines!
- Mindful Breathing – Practice deep breathing techniques to ground you in the present moment and to promote relaxation responses. Use this to ease yourself into the day, at times of stress or anxiety, and again at bedtime to promote soothing and restful sleep.
- Mindful Eating– Be fully present during meals, sit down to eat in a quiet place away from work pressures, distractions or the television and savour every bite. This will help you to make healthier food choices, be aware of portion-control and avoid over-eating or emotional-eating, will avoid indigestion and will help you feel more satisfied at the end of the meal. This helps elevate mood, promotes feelings of gratitude and encourages better food choices.
- Mindful Movement– Explore activities that promote mindfulness through movement such as yoga, tai chi or qigong, to optimise positive energy within the mind, body and spirit, then try and incorporate them into your weekly exercise routine.
- Mindfulness Coaching– Consider working with a professional such as a Health Coach or Mindfulness Instructor to help you find balance and wellbeing through your daily mindfulness practice.
By being open to exploring mindfulness and using this powerful tool to improve your physical and mental wellbeing, you may experience a real transformation in your day-to-day quality and enjoyment of life!