Have you ever felt a surge of happiness when walking barefoot on a soft rug, or when feeling yourself being warmed by unexpected sunshine? When this happens, you will have been experiencing the joys of mindful living. Mindfulness is a state experienced when we connect with the present moment, rather than focusing on the past or worrying about the future. You can train yourself to be more mindful by spending just minutes each day on relaxing breathing exercises.
Hasn’t this practice been around for as long as mankind?
Of course humans have always been capable of experiencing the world around them! However, too often we waste huge chunks of our lives ruminating over past regrets or worrying about things that will probably never happen. These negative thoughts can chip away at our emotions and poison our relationships.
Mindful meditation was developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn over 30 years ago, to be used during his world-renowned MBSR (mindfulness-based stress reduction) program. It has its roots in ancient Eastern religious practices, but you don’t have to be at all religious to experience the stress-relieving benefits which mindfulness brings.
So here’s what you need to do – 10 minutes
Sit upright, cross-legged on the floor, on a comfortable mat or cushion. Start by taking several deep breaths, slowly counting to five on each in and each out breath. Close your eyes, and continue focusing on your breathing. You no longer need to count with each inhalation. Just try to keep your mind on the sensation of breathing. Whilst you are new to mindfulness your thoughts are bound to wander. You may start planning your next
Taking it further
The more you practice this, the more you will develop the ability to recognise when your thoughts are distracting you from enjoying the positive aspects of the present moment. Mindfulness can help reduce stress levels and combat anxiety, depression and insomnia.
You might decide to download a mindfulness guided-meditation app to help you focus on the breathing exercises or even to attend a mindfulness on-line course. There are specific guided- meditations aimed at helping with particular issues.
Next time you eat a plate of food, try to take time to focus fully on the smells, taste and feel of the food you are eating. Next time you walk to work, take a slightly different route to help you to focus on the sights and sounds around you.