Part of living a healthy life, and beautiful existence, to me includes not only physical health, but mental too. It’s probably only been in the last year or so that I’ve really tried to focus on mental and spiritual growth as much as I do on physical gains, and it’s amazing how much already it’s made a positive impact on my life. One important aspect, and also what seems to also be a popular wellness “trend” at the moment, is learning to live mindfully.
The basic principal of being mindful is as it seems; that we are fully aware and living in the present moment. One great quote which sums this perfectly is from ancient Chinese philosopher and writer, Lao Tzu:
If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are peace, you are living in the present
So, who can practice mindfulness? Anyone! The beauty of learning this practice is it’s so easy to get started, and you don’t need anything apart from yourself and a willingness to change your mindset for the better. Here are my seven simple steps for getting started:
1. Set aside some time in your day to work on being more mindful
To start with, consciously set aside some time to work on this practice. It may be that you wish to start each morning on a positive note, at the end of the day while winding down, or even during spare time on your work commute (I’m all about using your time efficiently) – whatever works for you!
2. Focus on your breathing
Start by taking the time to focus on each breath, focusing on the flow in and out and the rise and fall of your chest. As you become more aware of your breathing your mind will slowly focus on this and clear of other thoughts you may have, helping you to be more present.
3. Focus on your body
Whatever you are doing, consciously feel each body part. When I used to practice yoga weekly, during relaxation time at the end we would slowly work our way up our body from our feet to our head focusing on and then relaxing each body part. If you’re sitting, think about your feet and where they’re placed, and notice where your body may be resting on the seat. As with being aware of your breathing, consciously taking note about how all of your body feels will help you to be more present and aware.
4. Include all of your senses
Once you’re mindful of your breath and how your body feels, then take a moment to fully be aware of all of your other senses. What can you smell? If you’re eating (mindful eating is also a very important practice to learn!) focus on the taste and the texture of your food. What is going on in your surroundings? Once you start to become aware of the present, the goal is to learn to enjoy the moment that you’re in.
5. Stay focused on your breathing
If you find your mind wandering, which you will, focus once again on your breathing which will help you to once again clear your mind and be present.
6. Acknowledge your thoughts and let them pass
Don’t be frustrated if you keep getting distracted and letting your mind wander. Instead try and acknowledge each thought that enters, and then let it pass. This practice is also important in meditation, and also one of the first steps in learning to meditate. As someone who is constantly over-thinking and having a million thoughts at once – I understand that this is a hard process and may be frustrating at first! But, as with anything, it will get better with practice and effort.
7. Avoid the need to constantly always be “doing”, instead focus on simply “being”
In the world we are living in today, there’s such a glorification on always having to be busy and always rushing to get things done. Take the time to appreciate simply just being, using all the tips below, and really enjoying and living in the moment you’re in – this is what being mindful is all about!