This term ‘Mindfulness’ gets thrown around a lot these days: “Be mindful of what you say”, “Be mindful of what you do”, “Be mindful of your money”, but what exactly does it mean?
Surely mindfulness isn’t just about being considerate, cautious or frugal?
This subject of mindfulness is becoming a bit of a hot topic in this modern day and age, probably because we are becoming increasingly absorbed into the technical side of our lives. Don’t get me wrong, I am as attached to my smartphone as everyone else, however I still want to feel connected to my environment and the people around me.
Cultivating mindfulness is about increasing our self-awareness, and in doing so reducing our stress levels, enhancing our emotional intelligence and basically improving our quality of life. So yes please, I think I would like some of that!
If you are thinking that it sounds a little complicated, don’t worry it really doesn’t have to be. Mindfulness has its place in even the most basic of everyday activities. Whether it be talking with a friend, driving a car or working out at the gym, mindfulness can help us live more fulfilling lives.
There are many ways to cultivate mindfulness into your day, but here are 5 simple steps that I like to use:
- Be present in conversation - It can be really easy to vague off when talking to someone, especially if you have things that need to be done. Yet taking the time to be present in a conversation will not only improve your relationship with others, it will also help you to better communicate your own thoughts and feelings.
- Eat slowly - I know I have mentioned this before, but eating slowly really is important for your health as well as cultivating mindfulness. Not only will you be less likely to over eat, you will also more likely be properly masticating (chewing) your food which is an important part of the digestive process. It is also nice to take the time to enjoy your food. Consider where it has come from and have a little appreciation for the nutrients it is providing you with.
- Breath through strong emotions - The wonderful swing of emotions is something that affects us all. Yet in the heat of negative emotions we can often say things, or act in a way that we may later regret. So when you recognise yourself becoming overwhelmed by a strong emotion, take a few slow deep breaths before you react. This might sound a little cliché, but it really helps! Whilst taking those breaths, try and step back and see the bigger picture. Ask yourself if the situation is really worth getting fired up over, or are you better off just walking away and cooling down.
- Make the mundane into meditation - When getting those household chores done, or even driving to and from places, I like to take this time to meditate. Not in the cross legged, eyes closed kind of way, but I like to use this time to reflect on how I am feeling. I focus on my breathing, become aware of my environment, and try to watch the different thoughts I am having without getting too involved in them. This might seem like hard work, but I actually find it very relaxing not to mention insightful.
Stop and smell the roses - Every now and then, just stop for a few moments and take the time to appreciate where you are and what you are doing. There is so much beauty happening around us, though we often become so involved in life that we forget to notice!