Mindfulness or meditation is a free tool in your holistic lifestyle kit that I can promise you, you’re under utilising. Instead of trying harder to do more exercise, eat better quality food and get better quality sleep (all GREAT things) I think mindfulness is the biggest piece of the optimal wellbeing puzzle that is under used.
Why do I say this?
We live in a culture of more, quicker, faster, better. But really we have all we need right now, right this moment if we just stop and take a breath and see it, feel it.
Mindfulness meditation has been shown to:
•Improve chronic lower back pain in patients who suffer
•Improve digestion in those suffering with IBS type symptoms
•Improve sleep quality
•Strengthen the immune system
•Slowing the ageing process
•Reduce muscular tension
So how do you get started?
While the optimal amount of time may be in the region of 20-30 minutes performed every day, its far better to start small and build slowly doing something you can manage. With that being said, below is a phased progression from mindful tasks into full blown mindfulness meditation. Start small and build then experience the benefits for life.
1. Be mindful once per day while doing a menial task – For example while brushing your teeth be very present, feel the bristles, taste the toothpaste and be aware of any smells. Be in the moment for the two minutes it takes to do this. If the mind wonders off, don’t worry it will, bring it back to what you’re doing.
2. Be mindful while eating one meal per day – Its obviously going to be best if this is a meal you eat alone. Chew every mouthful until completely liquified, be really aware of the textures of the foods in your mouth. The different flavours and smells. Again when the mind wonders to the “to do list” of life, bring the mind back to the present by focusing on your meal once more.
3. Be mindful while walking each day – If you make this part of your daily walk to and from work it will really help set the stage for your day and calm the mind for a restful evening on the way home. If you don’t walk very much to get to work, try parking further from work or get off public transport one stop earlier.
4. Build mindfulness into your daily exercise routine – While doing your daily exercise or stretching you can do so now being very mindful of the smells, sounds, sensations and colours all around you. Be aware of your body as it touches the floor. How the ground feels underneath your feet etc
5. Develop a specific mindfulness practice for 10-20 minutes – By this point you have experienced mindfulness and the benefits it offers so you will be more likely to stick to a specific period of time calming the mind and meditating. Remember when the mind wonders which it will, try not to judge it, simply bring yourself back to the moment and focus on the breath for example.
I hope you make a start with mindfulness and build up to enjoying the many benefits.