Firstly I should say that I’ve not been mindful about writing this blog, I have been writing this blog whilst making the Sunday dinner, hopefully the chicken will not suffer for my lack of focus, the juices will run clear and we shall not contract botulism. If not, then I hope you have enjoyed reading my blog this past year and let this be a lesson to us all to be mindful!
Secondly, I have spent the past year being mindful of the fact that I am not being mindful! A year ago I blogged about this and I downloaded the App ‘Headspace’ by Andy Puddicombe, you can set an alarm to go off at any time as a reminder to do a 10 minute mindfulness meditation. So, every day the alarm goes off at 7.20am and every day I ignore it. I did do about 5 days in total and the first day I didn’t give myself enough time, set off for work got stuck behind a tractor and was late!
Still curious about mindfulness I found out about a local course, enrolled and went along last Sunday afternoon. So, what is mindfulness? It’s about paying attention to the present moment. How many times are you sat at your desk, ‘focusing’ on the task in hand and your mind is either thinking about something that happened earlier, or yesterday, or last week or about the meeting you have to go to later, the report you have to write by the end of the day, the e mail you haven’t had a response to yet, etc, etc. Sound familiar? Your mind is essentially full!
Mindfulness is about bringing your awareness into the now and focussing on this moment, this one here, right now. If you check in with yourself right NOW, are you reading this blog mindfully or are you thinking about your day ahead or the rubbish journey you’ve just had getting into work, we do it all the time. How do we stop flitting backwards and forwards and be mindful?
One of the biggest revelations for me and I think where I’d been going wrong was thinking I had to set aside a chunk of time every day, just once to practice mindfulness, hence downloading the app (which I’m sure works for a lot of people) and failing every morning to create the time to practice. The answer is, you don’t. You can practice by focusing on simple everyday tasks such as getting a shower, brushing your teeth, it’s all about being in the moment and being present with what you are doing. On the course we learnt different practices such as the body scan which is focusing on different parts of your body from top to toe and noticing how they are feeling. You can also simply focus on the breath for a few minutes which helps to quiet the mind and calm down the noise to enable you to focus your attention on the now.
So, why do it? More and more research is being carried out on the benefits of mindfulness and this post lists 20 reasons why it’s good for your mental and physical health, the first one being that it lowers stress by reducing the stress hormone cortisol, sounds as good a reason as any! http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/08/mindfulness-meditation-benefits-health_n_3016045.html
I bought a book ages ago called Mindfulness for Busy People by Dr Michael Sinclair and Josie Seydel which I had fully intended to read this week, unfortunately I am only on page 49, I have 180 pages to go! What I have read so far is really good though, particularly the reminder that all time is our time and I love this quote, “Everywhere you are, everywhere you go, whatever you are doing and whomever you are with- surprise, surprise, you are also there!” I shall report back when I’m finished the book and I have been trying to practice what I preach this week in some shape or form although my mindfulness muscle is incredibly weak, I’m sure it will build itself up in time.
Finally I wanted to share a really good TED Talk from Diana Winston on The Practice of Mindfulness. Diana is the Director of the Mindfulness Awareness Research Centre at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and if you can spare 17mins and 7 seconds of your time, I would really recommend you watch. She gives a great introduction to what it’s all about, the benefits and how you do it which is something I’ve tried to do in my blog but if I got distracted by cooking my chicken and haven’t done it justice, I apologise!
Have a great week everyone!