What is mindfulness?
Here’s the Oxford Mindfulness Centre definition:
‘To be mindful is to be aware of your own experience, moment to moment, without judgement. Mindfulness is a way to hit pause. It slows things down and creates space. It can help you accept yourself, just as you are. It can help you focus, be calmer and have a healthier perspective on life’.
Check out this animated explanation of mindfulness on YouTube.
How can mindfulness help?
Being more present and experiencing the moment can help us find more enjoyment in the world around us. It can help us better understand ourselves too.
Most of us have experienced difficulties that are hard to let go of. We can sometimes feel trapped reliving these past problems, or imagining problems that might happen in the future.
Mindfulness helps us stand back from our thoughts and observe potential patterns. Gradually, we can train ourselves to notice when our thoughts are taking over.
How to be more mindful
Have a look at the steps below:
Take a moment to focus on things. The weight of your feet on the ground. The sensation of food in your mouth. Each breath you take as it moves in and out of your body. Although doing this might sound strange, it can actually give us new perspectives.
Make time on a daily basis to try a mindfulness technique. It’s a good idea to stick to the same time each day so it becomes part of your routine.
Try something new
Mix it up! Trying something new can help us notice different things around us. The changes don’t even have to be dramatic or challenging. Try sitting in a different seat in meetings, eating something new for lunch, walking instead of catching the bus.
Be aware of your thoughts
Mindfulness enables us to calm our thoughts and maintain a healthy ‘distance’ from them. Even if the thoughts come flooding back, the key is to understand that mindfulness doesn’t make these thoughts disappear – it allows us to see them as merely mental events.
Putting a name to our thoughts and feelings, and how they impact on our body, can be really useful in managing them.
Thought: ‘I know I’m going to fail that exam’
Feeling: ‘This is anxiety’
My Body: ‘My throat is tight, my heart is racing, I feel like I want to cry’.