04 April 2022
Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us (Kabat-Zin).
It might seem really basic, but so often our minds drift and we seem to lose touch with our body. We get obsessive about something that has just happened, or we start fretting about the future. Both of which make us anxious.
Mindfulness snaps up back into the present to where we are, what we’re doing, and what we’re feeling. You just need to learn how to access it. There are different exercises that you can use to access it.
If you’re interested in four exercises to help you with practising mindfulness, keep reading.
Meditation is a great tool to help you practice mindfulness. It isn’t that your head becomes free from thought. It’s a special place where we venture into the inner workings of our minds. The sensations we are experiencing, (the draft on our legs or the smell of something in the air), our emotions (what we love, hate, crave, etc), and our thoughts.
It makes us suspend our judgement (to read more on the seven principles of mindfulness, click here), and makes us approach our experiences with warmth and kindness to ourselves and others.
We know what the benefits of mindfulness are, and we know what the benefits of yoga are. But what happens when you combine the two together?
Mindfulness has always been an important part of your yoga practice, but with mindful yoga, the focus shifts. It moves to mind-body awareness rather than physical posture. This creates an alert focus to whatever you are doing in that exact moment and transforms your movement into a form of meditation.
There is an emphasis on observing your mind and feelings as you are going through the poses. The main point of mindful yoga is to be curious and open to what you are noticing with your body’s sensations.
An easy way to be in the present moment is to use your senses.
- 5 things you can see – Become aware of your surrounds and try to pick out something you don’t usually notice
- 4 things you can feel – What is the texture of your clothing, what does the table you’re resting on feel like, etc
- 3 things you can hear – Notice things in the background that you don’t normally notice. It could be someone tapping away on their keyboard, or it could be the soft hum of cars outside.
- 2 things you can smell – Bring your attention to the scents in the air, either pleasant or unpleasant.
- 1 thing you can taste – take a sip of your drink, notice the current taste in your mouth, take a bite out of an apple etc.
The goal of this exercise is to calm your mind by using your five senses to focus on your environment instead of your thoughts.
Practising mindful walking is another great tool to use. It uses an everyday activity as a mindful practice to help you become more aware of the sensations in your body, tune into your environment, and focus on the present moment.
As you walk, walk at your natural pace. After a few minutes, start to expand your attention to your surroundings and move through your senses. Listen to the sounds, but don’t put too much thought into it or what is causing it. Then, move onto your sense of smell and finally your vision. What colours and objects can you see?
Walking is a great healthy habit to bring into your daily routine for both the physical and mental health benefits. To read more on the benefits, click here.
Mindfulness lights up parts of our brains that aren’t normally activated when we’re running around mindlessly on autopilot. We will feel more content in ourselves and see an improvement in our well-being.
Try each of the exercises above to see which one works best for you. For more information on other exercises you can do, click here.