You’ve likely heard the term ‘mindfulness’ thrown around a lot in conversations around wellbeing, mental health and even meditation. Perhaps you’ve even tried it, whether it’s through an app on your phone, in-session with a therapist or at a local yoga studio. In concept, it’s not difficult to explain – clear your mind of thoughts, quieten your inner dialogue and create stillness, and focus on nothing but your own breath and the present moment. In practice? Well, it might be a little more challenging to implement.
Our minds are wired to constantly be perceiving the world through the lens of our past experiences; it’s how we form habits, beliefs, and become the person we are at any given moment. While this is an important part of the human experience, allowing us to individuate ourselves and cultivate our own unique identities, it can also entrap us within the shackles of our thoughts. The practice of mindfulness allows us to loosen these shackles and return to experiencing the present moment, helping us to become more aware of our thoughts and feelings and giving us the chance to manage them more effectively. This can help to reduce stress and anxiety, enhance feelings of gratitude and encourage us to embrace life with more positivity.
So where do you start? Mindfulness practices can begin with just a short 1 minute breathing exercise. Sit in a relaxed position with your palms facing up, and hone in your attention to just your breathing. Notice how the air passes in and out of your nose, observe how your stomach expands with each inhalation, and clear your mind of all else. Any time you feel your attention wavering, simply calmly return to your breath. By increasing this minute to 2 minutes, 5 and eventually 10, you can weave mindfulness into your everyday routine.