Mindfulness Meditation is the deliberate act of sitting still and watching your thoughts but mindfulness itself is a practice you can do at any time. You’re being mindful whenever you’re completely focused on what’s happening around you and whenever you’re entirely aware of your sensory input, your body and your thoughts. Developing this ability of being present moment-to-moment is an important skill for daily life. Paying more attention to the present moment – to your thoughts and feelings as well as to the world around you – improves your mental wellbeing… so much so that Mindfulness meditation is now recommended by the NHS!
One of the best ways to enhance mindfulness is by meditating: finding a comfortable seat; paying attention to your breath; noticing when your mind wanders; and returning to the breath.
In addition to meditating, these mindful activities are ideal for building mindful awareness. These simple techniques take just a few minutes to do and will leave you feeling profoundly relaxed.
Brushing your teeth: start at your feet. Feel your feet in connection to the Earth. Notice the stability through your body right up to the toothbrush that you hold in your hand. With your arm moving up and down (or side to side) just be aware of the whole body’s involvement in the act of tooth brushing. This technique isn’t a form of meditation but is a mindful practice of observation.
Mindful walking: standing up straight with an upright spine, again feel both your feet in connection to the ground with your body weight distributed evenly between them. Notice as you step forward the swing of your leg and the weight shifting from the back leg to the front leg. Observe what happens as you continue that movement taking the next step forward. Try to keep walking at a steady pace and whenever your attention wanders, bring it back to the sensations of the movement.
Body scan: this is a practice where you remain still and just move your attention slowly through your body from top to bottom or from bottom to top. For example if you’ve been doing a lot of thinking or creative work you can start at the top of your head and move all the way down to the tips of your toes or if you’ve been physically active you could start from the tips of your toes and move all the way to the top of your head. By being mindfully aware of different feelings or sensations such as warmth, relaxation, tension or tingling at different parts of your body, your conscious awareness increases and prevents you from running on autopilot.
Mindful breathing: like the body scan this practice can be done sitting, standing or lying down. Place both hands on your belly and close your eyes if it’s comfortable. If you can’t feel any movement below your hands as you breathe see if you can direct your breath further down into your lower abdomen. Beyond feeling the movement of your breath through your hands you could also bring your awareness to your breath as it passes through your nostrils or focus on the sound of your breath as it passes through your throat.
Now you can see how very simple it is to practise mindfulness. By practising regularly, the results will accrue so you can just press pause and experience each moment with minimal distractions.