Living Mindfully – A Blog by Susan
Mindfulness is about being present to your life as it unfolds moment by moment. Most of us are cut off from our bodies and living in our heads at such high speed at times that we always seem to be striving and never arriving.
Out there, tomorrow, next week, next month, next year… always seems to be more attractive than NOW. We get anxious about what may or may not happen in the future or we tend to get stuck ruminating in the past about all the things we believe “should” have turned out differently.
This only causes us stress and when we do this, we begin to miss the present moment. The point of power is in the present moment. We can’t change the past and we can’t live in the future, but if we learn the tools to live our lives in the present moment, then we are paving the way for a brighter future.
Mindfulness can help us to see our challenges in life and learn to relate to them differently.
- Mindfulness is not about sitting cross legged in a room full of incense being completely still.
- It is not a religion
- It is not way to avoid difficulty
It can be practised anywhere and at any time regardless of how busy or quiet your life is. It’s a matter of deciding to exercise the muscle of the mind like you would do if going to the gym for the body. So over the coming days why not try one or two of the following each week, which will help you weave mindfulness into your everyday life.
Mindful Listening – Paying full attention to the sounds around you or if you’re in conversation with someone try paying particular attention to how you are responding and how difficult you may find it to really listen to the other person without interrupting or finishing the other person’s sentence.
Become aware of you and your ways. Mindfulness can help us to see our challenges and begin to relate to them differently.
Mindful Eating/Drinking – Really focus on the food, colours, textures, taste, smell, chewing, swallowing. Being fully with what you are doing right now in this moment. They say this can be a great help in noticing when you are full. As most of the time, when we’re eating, our minds are on other things so we are unable to recognise the full feeling when its triggered. A lot of work is being done around mindful eating and weight loss at the moment.
Mindful Walking – Walk on purpose, noticing your feet on the ground, the crunch of the gravel or leaves underfoot, the muscles that need to move in order for you to walk. Then notice where your mind has wandered to, usually off into a story about the past or the future. Bring it back again to the walk, your surroundings, the smells, sounds, feel the air on your skin and notice your breathing.
Mindful Breathing – This acts as our anchor at all times. It helps when feeling anxious, down and stressed to simply notice your breath. Let go of all thoughts and worries, observe your breathing as it is happening, follow it all the way in… and all the way back out. Try 7/11 breathing – in for the count of 7 seconds and out for the count of 11 seconds.
Having the out breath longer than the inbreath can really enable a feeling of calm.
Mindful Teeth Brushing – Really taste the toothpaste, feel the brush, notice where your mind is, notice how it tends to want to go out into the future and back into the past. Bring it back to the brushing of your teeth again, noticing the water, smells, taste etc. Just be with what you are doing. It’s that simple.
You see the more you do this during routine daily activities then the more you will be able to do it during times of stress, anxiety and depression. You will create a habit that will help you move out of autopilot and notice that your life is happening moment by moment and breath by breath and that’s all you ever really need to deal with, this moment.
It’s about being more awake or conscious to your life as it unfolds on a day-to-day basis. Noticing you, your body, your judgements about stuff going on in your world and the world around you.
Thank you to Susan Crowley for submitting this blog post. Susan works in our Cork office and delivered a mindfulness workshop at GROW’s National Weekend.