Given the fast-paced, demanding nature of modern life, it’s no surprise that many people are turning to mindfulness to combat burnout and protect their wellbeing.
But what exactly is mindfulness, and how does one practise being mindful?
Mindfulness is often inaccurately thought of as a state of complete tranquility where only positive thoughts are allowed – a misconception which may deter people who think their minds are too preoccupied to participate.
Far from this “good vibes only” approach that more closely aligns with toxic positivity, true mindfulness describes a state of being fully present in the current moment, noticing physical sensations or thought patterns without actively engaging with them or judging them as inherently positive or negative.
If you want to start being more mindful but aren’t sure how to start, read on to find out how to reap the benefits of mindfulness every day.
Meditate to be mindful
Meditation has become increasingly mainstream, yet many remain skeptical or are yet to find the right kind of meditation for them.
Attending a multi-day meditation retreat or finding a quiet hour to meditate each day is not realistic or accessible for most mindfulness beginners.
So, start small by doing as little as two to five minutes of guided meditation each day, in the privacy of your home and at a time you find most achievable and enjoyable.
This may mean including a short meditation practice during your morning or night routine to get you in the right headspace for the day or to clear your mind and achieve deeper, less interrupted sleep.
Grabbing breakfast on the go or eating lunch while working is a common among busy people, however mindless or distracted eating may have negative side effects.
These include eating too quickly, causing indigestion and discomfort, and not allowing the body to acknowledge the intake of food, which can dampen satiety signals and lead to overeating.
Experiment with mindful eating by sitting down to eat at a table without distractions, eating slowly, and really savouring each mouthful.
In a world where food is abundant and almost constantly readily available, taking time to appreciate your food will help foster feelings of gratitude, as well as making eating a more enjoyable experience, with some studies even suggesting it can help prevent conditions like diabetes.
Despite the positive impacts of exercise on physical and psychological wellbeing, humans are living increasingly sedentary lifestyles.
Barriers to exercise are complex and include practical limitations like financial and time constraints, however mindfulness might be the key to staying active despite a busy schedule.
Mindful movement involves observing the connection between mind and body and noticing the sensations exercise evokes.
Many people ‘zone out’ during a run or a workout, however remaining present and mindful during exercise may help lower stress levels, increase mind to muscle connection, improve performance, prevent injury, and make exercise more enjoyable and sustainable.
Exploring mindful movement could begin with a yoga class that includes a Pranayama practice, focusing on the connection between movement and the breath, or simply paying conscious attention to the physical and emotional sensations that arise during a workout.
Mindfulness at work
Mindfulness can improve work performance and lead to a more satisfying career, yet on particularly stressful or busy days finding time to meditate can feel like an added chore.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to integrate mindfulness into your current work routine to improve focus and productivity.
Simple ways to be more mindful at work include reducing multitasking and consciously focusing on one task at a time, or creating a mantra of gratitude for the opportunities you have at work, even when they present themselves as challenges.
Mindfulness exercises at work can be as short and simple as taking 30 seconds in between tasks or meetings to take a deep breath and focus on landing in the current moment, committing to being fully present and giving full, conscious attention to the task at hand.
Build the habit of mindfulness
Streamline the incorporation of these mindful practices by setting reminders, prompting you to pause and reset your focus at regular intervals throughout the day.
Be patient, and experiment with different approaches until you find the best one for you, remembering that mindfulness is called a practice for a reason.
There is no wrong way to be mindful, and the focus should be on the journey, not the destination.
Accepting where you are now while working towards your next step is the essence of mindfulness, which over time can foster a calm sense of focus and empowerment to face life’s challenges with grace and awareness.
TELL US: How do you approach mindfulness? Do you have any tactics that work for you? Share your tips in the comments section below.