Mind Yourself: How (and Why) to Start Practising Mindfulness
We’re all very busy people, consumed with doing very important things.
For many of us, life is fast-paced and pretty chockablock with responsibilities. Paying more attention to the present moment seems like a waste of time when you have 101 things on the agenda.
But practising being more in the present can improve your well-being drastically. Some people call it meditation, some call it awareness, but most call it Mindfulness.
Professor Mark Williams, former director of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre, says that mindfulness means knowing directly what is going on inside and outside ourselves, moment by moment
"It's easy to stop noticing the world around us. It's also easy to lose touch with the way our bodies are feeling and to end up living 'in our heads' – caught up in our thoughts without stopping to notice how those thoughts are driving our emotions and behaviour," he says.
"An important part of mindfulness is reconnecting with our bodies and the sensations they experience. This means waking up to the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of the present moment. That might be something as simple as the feel of a bannister as we walk upstairs.
Incorporate these habits into your daily life and watch your outlook on life dramatically improve.
Freshen up your routine to help view every day in a different way, this could be as simple as choosing to sit on the other side of the dining table when you’re working from home, or choosing a new route for your walk to the office in the morning.
Your emotions are so powerful. Part of the reason why feelings can seem consuming is that we often try to ignore them. Some people find it helpful to identify those big feelings with a name. When you feel yourself spiralling into a ball of anxiety, name it. You’re not spiralling, this is anxiety. You’re not going to fail this exam because you’re stupid, that is your anxiety.
Sitting quietly with yourself sounds pretty difficult, but becoming in tune with your consciousness can be incredibly helpful for your mental well-being. Sit still for a moment, and pay attention to your thoughts, the surrounding sounds, and your breathing. And if your mind starters to wander, and suddenly you’re thinking “Oh god, what am I going to do for dinner tonight”, try and guide yourself back to that mental oasis.
Find peace in that quiet stillness.
I find it helpful to sit quietly and run my thumb and index finger together. I focus on that sensation, maybe changing speed or direction to keep me focused, and then filter that focus throughout my entire body. Before you know it you’ve been still with yourself for half an hour thinking about nothing but your own body. Trust me, you feel refreshed.
These are just some ways to start practising mindfulness. As always, we encourage you to try it out and see what works for you! There's a whole manifesto of mindfulness methods for you to try, so get researching Peakheads!