If you’ve ever driven to a destination and wondered how you go there or got to the end of a meal without really noticing what you’ve eaten, you’ll recognise that we can easily drift into ‘autopilot’ and life can simply pass us by.
Jon Kabat Zinn defines mindfulness as ‘paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally’. Other ways to describe mindfulness include ‘letting go of taking this for granted’, ‘aliveness’ and ‘the self-regulation of attention with an attitude of curiosity, openness, and acceptance.’ Whatever our definition, it is agreed that mindfulness can have a positive impact on our well-being and mental health. And it doesn’t need to involve long hours of meditation or a complex guided practice. Amidst the increasing literature on this subject (a quick internet search will yield thousands of results; there are many courses available, long and short, online and in person and an Amazon search for books about mindfulness presents over 50 000 results), here are my top 5 simple and everyday mindfulness suggestions for well being:
- Set an intention at the start of every day – think about how you would like to be that day (kind, attentive, focused, active) and consider your opportunities to live that intention. Your day is more likely to unfold in this way if you set your intention early.
- Find something mindful to do which you enjoy – colouring, painting, knitting, cooking. Practising mindfulness in a way you love means you’re more likely to incorporate it into your everyday habits.
- Notice and appreciate the small things – a garden flower, the smell of the coffee, birdsong in the morning, a hug.
- Breathe deeply – take three deep breaths right from your belly before you start a conversation or a work activity to help you become more present. If you do the same afterwards, it will help to clear your thoughts and let go of anything you might be holding on to unnecessarily.
- Walk mindfully – pay attention to the sensations in your feet and the host of other sensations all around you one at a time – sound, smells, vision, touch. Slow down. Stay present. Check out www.mindful.org/daily-mindful-walking-practice/ for more information.
I’ll be facilitating a mindfulness workshop at ‘It’s Great Up North – Northern Healthcare LKS Conference’, 6th and 7th June 2019 Old Swan, Harrogate #itsgreatupntth