What is Mindfulness?

We live in a frantic world where we are constantly assaulted by scare stories on the television and radio, while holding down busy jobs where there is always more to do than time to do it in. We are trying to balance this with a fulfilling home and social life, exercise, hobbies, laundry, cooking, shopping and all the demands of 21st century living, and often end up exhausted and anxious. We spend every spare moment re-hashing the past or planning the rest of the day, multi-tasking and rarely allowing ourselves a pause in the day to listen to the birds, smell the roses, breathe, to just be thankful to be alive.

Mindfulness is an opportunity to “safeguard what precious sanity is available to us on this planet” (Jon Kabat-Zinn), find an inner calm, see the bigger picture and stop that “monkey mind” from managing you.

It is simple and yet challenging at the same time, but well worth the effort, there is much evidence that regular meditation and mindful awareness leads to increased brain function, greater resilience to stress and increased creativity.

Mindfulness is about coming to our senses with compassion, curiosity and without judgement. When we are feeling in turmoil about life, instead of running away, mindfulness gently encourages us to turn into the skid and sit down with all our emotions, accepting ourselves warts and all.

You can spend 5 minutes a day sitting quietly with yourself just focusing on your breath, doing some simple yoga moves, or following a guided meditation CD. A good idea is to practice mindful check-ins when you put a pause, a comma into your day to breathe, roll your shoulders, look out the window and relax.

You can bring all your awareness to an every day activity such as chopping vegetables, really concentrating on the task, the colours and textures, wonder about who grew the plants, the journey to your table from the soil it was planted in, how it will taste. A simple task can take on a whole new level of reality, meaning and enjoyment.

There are numerous books on Mindfulness, many authors have written extensively on the subject, you could look up.

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-Nicola Preston Bell