Mindfulness is all the rage—in fact, it’s the answer to many modern psychological issues. But this buzzword isn’t just a bunch of hype, it’s a sure-fire method to combat stress, anxiety and teach you how to tune in to your body and life itself.
Mindfulness is powerful, not only because it re-wires your brain and soothes strong emotions, but because it’s so easy! The easy part is doing it—the hard part of course, is the discipline it requires to practice it regularly. For most of us, the secret is to turn off the devices—say no to your phone, tablet, TV and computer and check into life!
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a state of being: it is union of mind and body in the present. So often we’re stuck in monkey mind—planning, making lists, worrying about the past or the future, lost in our thoughts and emotions. We forget to look around, to focus on the NOW. Mindfulness allows us to focus solely on the present and in this state, allow peace, calm and happiness into our presence.
Becoming mindful isn’t a huge commitment—it’s easy to do in small, short bursts. The beauty of mindfulness lies in its ability to teach you how to experience or embody sensuousness or for others sensuality. Mindfulness allows you to feel or hold the feeling of the present moment in your body.
Sensuousness is defined as of or relating to the senses or sensible objects; or gratification of the senses, having strong sensory appeal sensuous pleasure. Sensual on the other hand is a bit stronger: of or arousing gratification of the senses and physical, especially sexual, pleasure.
Either way, mindfulness is a great tool for experiencing life through the body instead of being constantly trapped in the mind. With that in mind, one could argue it’s a misnomer (a wrong or inaccurate use of a name or term). Maybe we should call it “bodiness” instead!
Here are few simple ways to include mindfulness in your daily life:
Wake up slow and soft
Turn your phone off when you go to sleep and put it in another room (opt for an alarm clock instead). Fill your lungs with 3-4 deep breaths as soon as your eyes open. Stretch your arms and legs, wiggle your toes and fingers and feel the energy flowing through your body. Breathe into your body and feel how comfortably your bed supports your body. Is there pain or pleasure in your body? Listen to the birds, look towards the window at the sun coming through, scan the room and ground yourself in the present before you get out of bed.
If you want to take it to the next level, set an intention for the day.
Here’s your mantra “slowly savour” each bite. Eat in silence without any distractions. Pay attention to how each bite tastes in your mouth, be grateful for the food, focus on chewing thoroughly so that you can swallow easily. Monitor your stomach to determine when you feel full. Deliberately cut and bite each piece of food so that it fits easily in your mouth. Thank everyone who made your food possible; from mother nature to the farmer and even yourself for buying it.
Instead of cranking up the iTunes, set out on an adventure with no destination in mind. Let your intuition guide you as you wander through streets or paths, looking around at everything and everyone you pass. Listen to the wind or the birds or your breath. Feel the air on your face, smell the leaves and let your mind soak in all the sensations. Watch your feet and legs as they take each step and allow the spontaneity of life to take you on this journey. Pay attention to your posture, push your shoulders back, engage your abs, walk strong and centred.
While someone is speaking to you, look into their eyes and maintain eye contact for long intervals. Scan their face and make note of their body’s posture and mannerisms. Tune into how their words make you feel. Before you answer or speak, pause and take a breath. Do not think or plan what you’re going to say while they are speaking. Let them completely finish before you respond.
Showering or bathing
Drop out of your mind and feel the water on your skin, it’s temperature, it’s pressure. Let it wash away everything from the day, all the thoughts, emotions, stress and strain in the body. Scrub your body and rub away any tension. As you wash your hair, dig your fingers deep into your scalp and breathe into the sensation. Use this time to love and nurture yourself.
Ready for bed
Before you lay down, turn off your phone and all lights. Lay in silent darkness and focus on your breath. Drop into your body and note how it feels laying comfortably in your bed. Listen to the fan, or the crickets or the silence of your room. Let your breath flow in and out and offer blessings of thanks and gratitude for this beautiful way to end your day…let go!
Other mindfulness tips:
- Short bursts are best—keep your practice around the ten-minute mark
- Don’t answer your phone on the first ring—pause, take a breath and then answer
- Practice not checking your emails, social media or browsing the internet and instead tuning into the world around you
- Whenever you are waiting—in line or in traffic—drop into a mindful state
- Go surfing—nothing more mindful than waiting for a wave
- Cleaning is best practiced mindfully with full appreciation and awareness