Mindfulness is a skill or way of being that, practiced regularly, can have a profound impact on your life.
It is the ability to notice and focus completely on the present moment without judging or overanalysing any accompanying thoughts or feelings.
Through the natural process of breathing in and breathing out, we learn to bring awareness to the body as we realise that there is no present, and no future, only the moment in which we are. The trance like state we are in when driving to a destination for example or eating a meal is reduced and we start to notice colours, sensations and identify feelings about the moment we are experiencing.
So, why do it?
Although Mindfulness may have had its origins in the Far East, the practice of mindfulness is fairly mainstream. Scientific research has shown a direct correlation between mindfulness and relief from high blood pressure, stress reduction, improved sleep, improved immunity and helping to relieve and reduce our sensation of pain.
Several studies have also shown that through regular practice, the structure of our brain involved with introspection, compassion and self awareness changes.
Being mindful will lead to an improvement in relationships, feelings of creativity and increased quality of sleep. It will encourage an openness to learning and general feelings of happiness and satisfaction with our lives. The Oxford Mindfulness Centre is a great resource for the reasons behind why mindfulness can be so effective in many areas of our lives.
How do we do it?
The best way to practice is to become aware of your breath. As it naturally flows, in and then out. Try not to force your breath, simply allow it to be there. Insight timer is a brilliant FREE app that has many meditations, music and talks which you can use to deepen your awareness.
Guided mindfulness classes are a great way to introduce yourself to this wonderful way of being. You will have the opportunity to ask questions and try some basic techniques that you can integrate into your daily life.
Ultimately how mindful you want to become is entirely up to you. You may find delight in seemingly ordinary moments like washing up or brushing your teeth and feel like you’d like to practice more regularly; ultimately, there is no limit on how mindful you can become.
For a simple mindfulness practice head over to State of Liberty where you can find one that I’ve written for the wonderful online retreats soon to be launched.
Image: courtesy of Katrina at State of Liberty.