Mindfulness. The benefits are abundant – it reduces stress, anxiety and improves our general state of mental health, yet we in the western world struggle to incorporate it into our lives. Are we overcomplicating it? Do we consider it to be just another time-consuming activity that needs fitting into our busy schedules? Perhaps the first hurdle is learning to acknowledge mindfulness, not as a taxing addition to our daily routines, but rather a simple incorporation to our lives. At its core, mindfulness is simply the act of awareness-a conscious acknowledgement of both the present moment and yourself. No matter your daily routine, try these three simple tips to help you stay mindful throughout your day.
1) Replace the morning ‘scrolling sesh’ with a few moments of reflection.
It’s all too easy to slip into the routine of replying to emails and trawling through our social newsfeeds – all before we leave the comfort of our beds. Instead, try and make a conscious decision to dedicate those few precious moments to yourself every morning and kick-start your mindful state.
Breathe in, take a moment to acknowledge any worries or concerns you may have for the day ahead, and as you exhale let them empty from your mind. Greet your body and your surroundings, and prepare yourself with a calm and open-hearted mindset. What better way to start the morning?
2) Whether you’re undertaking the daily commute or waiting in line for your coffee – breathe.
One thing that we regularly underestimate is the power of the breath. Breath control is an essential component of meditation, so why limit it to 15 minutes a day/week? Next time you’re running errands, getting the children ready or sat at home watching tv, take a moment to acknowledge your breathing. Chances are it is a little shallow and its natural movements can be found in your shoulders and chest.
Use this opportunity to engage with your breath and embrace a moment of mindfulness. Place a hand just above the navel, as you breathe deeply in through the nose, gently direct the breath into the stomach. You should feel your hand rise and lower softly as you inhale through your nose, and out through the mouth. Follow the natural rhythm of the body and slowly begin to elongate the breath as you enjoy a moment of peace and awareness.
Focused breathing allows us to fully engage with our body and mind. Most importantly, it’s the key to being actively mindful. It’s simple but, the focus you place on your breathing might just be the key to maintaining a mindful state throughout your day.
3) Remember that our active mind can never be mindful…
How often do we react too quickly without pause or thought? Our daily lives are filled with opportunities for us to react impulsively or irrationally but, the truth is, when we operate an active state of mind we can never hope to be mindful.
The next time you feel the urge to react, pause and breathe. Take a moment to acknowledge your instinctive reaction and the situation, and by creating a distance between it and your active mind, allow yourself to regain control. These moments never come with a warning and often prove the greatest challenge in maintaining a mindful state. Remember that nothing detrimental can come from a little moment of pause and reflection.