Mindfulness or 'being in the moment' can probably be best described with a quote;
“Life is available only in the present moment. If you abandon the present moment, you cannot live the moments of your daily life deeply.”
- Thich Nhat Hanh
The idea of being 'mindful' or 'being present', being more 'conscious of your life' and surroundings will not only help shift your mindset, but also help you achieve your goals and enjoy life more. Dare I say it..... you will be more productive (who would have thought?).
Being present, is without a doubt, one of the best ways to enjoy life to the absolute fullest. By practising mindfulness – the world is your oyster! By slowing down and taking a moment (or two), you will enjoy your food more, your friends and family more - life and everything it entails, just seems to be a little better. But, it takes practice...lots of practice, but it's worth it and the results can be incredible.
Life in general can be run at a hectic pace, we have had to adapt and multi-task to try and cram as much as we possibly can into our day. Sometimes though, just because we have ticked things off our “to do list”, doesn't necessarily mean we've done it well, or to our full potential.
So now we've (hopefully) piqued your interest....how does one actually go about practising mindfulness? Well, read on and let us give you a few tips on how you can achieve being “present” or “in the moment”.
Single tasking - don't multi task (in a nutshell, this Zen proverb sums it up perfectly "When walking, walk. When eating, eat."). Concentrate on one task at a time and do that task to the best of your ability, then move onto the next. Pretty simple...right? By doing one task at a time, your actions are more deliberate, not rushed or random. By practising moving at a slower pace will, in fact, help you focus on the task at hand.
Do less (I can hear the collective “yeah right..as if), but if you work out what's important and let go of what isn't, it will free your time up. By doing less, it will stop you from rushing from one thing to the next without stopping to think about what you do. By doing less, you can do the important tasks slowly and with more concentration.
Eat slowly and savour your food – our meals can be scoffed in record time due to being in such a rush, but where's the joy in that? Savour each bite, slowly, and really get the most out of your food - enjoy the taste, the aroma! Take the time to actually appreciate what you're putting into your body. By slowing your eating down and chewing more deliberately, you'll eat less, and digest your food better as well (you're welcome).
Stop worrying about the future – become more in tune with what you are thinking. Learn to recognise when you are doing this, and then practice bringing yourself back to the present. Just focus on what you're doing, right now. Sometimes practising breathing techniques will help you settle your thoughts and bring you back to the present moment. The most common technique is the 4-8-7 technique. Inhale a deep breathe to the count of four, hold that breathe to the count of eight and then exhale your breathe to the count of seven (exhaling 'whooshing' sound is optional).
Hear the silence around you – in today's society, we are all too familiar and reliant on technology and for some reason, uncomfortable with silence. There is a need to fill an awkward pause or silence with something...anything! But, I’m here to tell you, silence can be golden. It allows you to be more thoughtful to yourself and your surroundings. Sit for a few minutes (or more if you like..there are no rules here), and just listen – that's right listen. Hear the sounds around you, become more aware of the rhythm of your body's breathing - sounds you would normally dismiss or not even be aware of.
When you are talking to someone, pay attention - how many of us have spent time with someone but have zoned out and started to think about your to do list? Or thinking about what we want to say next, instead of really listening to that person? Instead, focus on being present, on really listening, on really enjoying your time with that person. If you feel your mind starting to wander off, allow yourself to focus on something for moment or two (it could be the ticking of a clock), then allow yourself to hear something outside (birds chirping) and in three, two, one...focus back to the conversation you are currently having.
In a nutshell, slow down and enjoy your life - savour each and every moment (quite literally, stop and smell the roses). Tune into the sights and sounds and waken your senses to the world around you....take notice! There are so many wonderful things that could be passing you by, but you are just too busy to notice.
Be gentle on yourself – being mindful takes practice, lots and lots of practice, but it's worth it. The most important thing is to keep practising. When it all gets too much, just take a deep breath and just keep practising.