What does it mean to practice mindfulness?
For me, mindfulness is meditation brought into my everyday life. Whilst sitting and meditating regularly is excellent for our health, being able to bring that meditation into our busy moving lives will have even more of an impact.
How do you do this on a practical level? Well, it is all about being more present in our daily routines, using all of our senses as we go about our day. I’ll give you a few examples of how I go about this;
First thing every morning I make a cup of warm lemon water. I notice the feel of the lemon as I cut it, the sound of the kettle boiling, the smell of lemon as I squeeze it, and the sensation in my mouth and throat as I drink it. Now this may sound a bit weird, I obviously don’t stand there concentrating and “wasting time” studying the lemon but I am conscious to what I am doing if that makes sense?
When I shower I focus on the sensations as the water washes over my body, noticing the warmth of the water on my skin, the slipperiness of the soap and the sense of wellbeing I get feeling clean and fresh.
When I prepare meals I am present to that as well; I notice the veggies as I cut them; their colour, feel and smell. And of course I am mindful to these things when I am eating, I chew more consciously, noticing textures and temperatures. This process also tends to slow our eating which is another positive as we can then truly enjoy our meal instead of rushing it in order to get on with something else.
I practice mindfulness when I exercise, fully immersing myself in that time, focusing on which muscles are working, where in my body I might be feeling the stretch or burn. Being able to connect with our physical body is powerful as it is always giving us messages and signs.
If you are not already doing so, I encourage you to try being mindful in your daily life. Rather than being lost in thinking, try and achieve a state of focused attention to what you are doing at the present without passing any judgement. And why should you do this? Because mindfulness is good for both your mental and physical health, and we all want to live long, healthy and happy lives.
PS I must add a disclaimer before you get the wrong idea. I have my bad days when I run from pillar to post, not engaged in the present. I get annoyed at bad drivers and want to honk my car horn at them. I get impatient and frustrated. I sometimes eat on the run. I multitask. These are all moments when I am not practicing mindfulness but of course are all teaching moments.