Why it’s important to be mindful.
Being mindful is important as it means you are present and aware. Yet very rarely are we ever fully present. Typically, our day is spent running from moment to moment, caught up in a mental to do list. Seldom do we stop, lift our heads, and take notice of our surroundings.
It has been scientifically proven that when the mind wanders, it moves to a default mode network, or autopilot. When you are in autopilot, you are still functioning, but you are doing so without awareness. We have all had that car journey when we can’t recall giving it our full attention.
In fact, most of what we do daily we do through autopilot…brushing our teeth, taking a shower, getting dressed, eating a meal.
When you are present, you are aware to what is happening in your mind, your body, and the environment around you. When you are present to your environment, you’re able to change the way you respond or react to a situation. Your ability to nurture relationships, exhibit compassion and kindness also increases.
You learn to stop, breathe, see beauty, and live with greater enjoyment.
Benefits on being mindful
There are many scientific studies that demonstrate the benefits that being mindful has on our physical and mental health. We are seeing meditation and mindfulness techniques taught in schools, prisons, workplace and prescribed by doctors. Why? because they work.
Being mindful has been proven to be the perfect antidote to the many stresses of modern living. It reduces and enables us to regulate our anxiety levels, depression, and stress and improves the quality of sleep.
Our capacity to cope better in stressful situations increases. You become less reactive. In fact, it’s almost like you have a moment to pause before you decide how to respond. It’s not that you don’t feel any emotion, you’ve become more aware as the emotion arises, and therefore, the response to the emotion becomes a lot more mindful.
How do you bring mindfulness into everyday life?
Here are 5 practices you can do to live more mindfully.
1. Breath Awareness
Your breath is happening automatically whether you are conscious of it or not. You can learn so much about your current state of being simply by noticing how you are breathing.
Take a moment to notice how your breath is flowing.
Is your breath shallow or deep? Are you breathing slowly or is the breath fast?
When you are in the stress response the breath will be shallow and more rapid. When you are calm the breath is much slower and deeper, there may be more pauses in between each breath.
By observing your breath, you are also able to take yourself out of this stress response and bring yourself to a place of calmness. Into the present moment.
All the attention is on this one single point – your breath. Which means your mind is also more focused.
There is a Buddhist meditation called Anapanasmrti (a Sanskrit word which means “mindfulness of breathing”) where the attention solely focuses on the breath.
2. Practice Conscious Listening
Think about the last conversation you had. Hand on heart, for how much of that conversation were you fully present? It’s very common to tune out of a conversation, most of the time we’re trying to think about how we’re going to respond.
Let’s look at this the other way around.
Have you ever been engaged in a conversation and wondered if the other person is listening to what you are saying?
I’m sure there have been occasions where you feel like you are speaking to yourself or a brick wall! And thought whether it’s worth carrying on with the conversation.
Therefore, conscious listening is important. We should all make a conscious effort to hear not only the words someone speaks with full attention, listening with ears, our heart and adopting the correct body language.
Notice this next time you are in a conversation. And try to be consciously present to the other person.
3. Mindful eating
It wasn’t too long ago when I was working in my corporate job, I would sit in front of my computer screen to eat my lunch, as did most of my work colleagues. We were probably too scared to take a break in fear that we wouldn’t look like we were being productive or dedicated to the job! Did it make me more productive? No. Did I ever really enjoy my lunch? Probably not.
I’d put energy and love into preparing my lunch, but I was just participating in the function of eating without experiencing the food or the process of eating.
When you don’t eat mindfully, with awareness, you are in danger of overeating because your thoughts are elsewhere and you’re not focused on your food. It’s also not very good for your digestive system to eat in a stressful situation.
The complete opposite happens when you eat with awareness. Research shows we digest our food much better when we are present and mindful of the process.
Focusing on the food you are eating is another way to bring you into the present moment.
This week, try something different.
Switch off the television, or step away from your computer screen. Remove your mobile device and pay attention to the meal you have lovingly prepared.
Notice the taste of the food in your mouth, the different textures, and smells. Be aware of the eating process. Take time to eat your meal and savour every mouthful!
4. Tune into your environment
Paying attention to your environment is one of the simplest ways to bring yourself into the present moment. This is one of my favourite practices to do when I am out walking. But you can practice it anywhere. Especially valuable to adopt when you are feeling stressed or overwhelm.
This is a mindfulness practice where you pay attention to the environment around you by tuning into your 5 senses. As you move through each of the senses, do so without attachment or judgement.
Are you ready?
Stop what you are doing. For a few moments look around you, what can you see? Notice all the different colours, shapes, and textures.
Next, tune into what do you hear? Hear sounds that are close by and sounds in the distance. The obvious and subtle sounds.
Move your attention to the sense of touch. Feel your feet touching the floor, air touching your skin, the clothing against your body. Observe the areas where clothing may feel tight. How does the fabric touch your skin?
Next, moving to the sense of smell. What aromas can you detect? Notice subtle aromas as well as strong smells. Finally.
We move to taste. What can you taste in your mouth?
If you would like to experience a guided version of this practice, you can access a video recording at by clicking on this link…
5. Observing your thoughts
Thoughts come and go continuously throughout the day. Some days the mind can be more active than others.
By practicing awareness based, or mindfulness-based meditation regularly you learn to observe your thoughts and feelings without judgement or attachment. Over time you start to notice your thought patterns; whether you’re stuck in the past, or you may notice one thought keeps reappearing.
We do this by cultivating the witness.
The ability to observe your thoughts and your thought patterns without being attached. Over time this awareness transfers to your external self, where you learn to be less affected by all that is happening around you and what life throws at you.
You become more present. And because you are more present, it helps you to make better decisions, manage and your emotions.
Over time, you start seeing the world differently. You begin to cultivate awareness, and it’s this awareness or being mindful that leads living a happier and more meaningful life. You shift from just coping to thriving.
If you’d like to give awareness based meditation a go, CLICK ON THIS LINK TO ACCESS A FREE MEDITATION. (it’s in English and Spanish).