“Life is a dance. Mindfulness is witnessing that dance.” – Amit Ray, Mindfulness Living in the Moment – Living in the Breath
We talk a lot about being mindful, and concentrating on leading a life that is so. But how do you get started? Practicing mindfulness and integrating it into your life can be tricky to begin with. Mindfulness, although you can start practicing its principles immediately, is not so easy to master.
Mindfulness takes time and practice and even though it can be tough to harness at times, its overall benefits are numerous to both yourself and the people around you. Inviting these techniques and behaviours into one’s life has been found to make people feel less overwhelmed, more positive about difficult experiences, make wiser choices, feel less stressed, sleep better and have significantly increased levels of self-worth… and this is just a handful of the positive side effects!
How to get started then? Here are a few thoughts and exercises to set you off on your mindfulness journey. Like many things, once you have taken the first step, your journey will build momentum, and before you know it you will be many miles up the road!
1. The Breath
At the end of the day (and the beginning), it always comes back to the breath. The breath is a pure simple and essential act. The breath gives us life, and its mechanics are enough to be curious about as we begin to practice. Your breathing occurs naturally and has a rhythm all of its own. When you have a moment to yourself, sit and focus on your breathing. To just focus on the breath takes you out of your mind and into your body. This is the foundation of meditation. This exercise, no matter how long you spend on it, is worthwhile. Whether a few conscious breaths to settle your nerves or a half hour break from the thoughts churning around in your head; regular practice will make a huge difference to your mood and outlook.
2. Consider the Senses
This is one of the best ways to coax yourself into the present moment; and it is no more complex than paying attention to what you are feeling and experiencing. When you are thinking about other things, you don’t register what your senses are picking up. If things are getting too much just pause for a moment. What are you seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and feeling? Take a moment to really smell your coffee, to appreciate the tastes and textures of your lunch or to enjoy the feeling of the sun on your face (or even the rain). Put attention into savouring the minutiae of the everyday and you might be amazed at the little joys you find.
3. A Little Meditation
Meditation increases energy, inspiration, creativity and happiness in general. Therefore, it stands to reason, if you meditate daily, you will start to experience these feelings more regularly. Changing habits isn’t always easy, but meditation needn’t intrude on your schedule very much; just 10 minutes a day is enough to see a significant change. 10-minute meditation in the morning, whether simple attention to the breath or following an audio practice (try Headspace or Buddhify), will put you in a much more positive and compassionate frame of mind for the remainder of the day.
4. A Few of Your Favourite Things
When you are engaging in your favourite activities, really pay attention to them and let them carry your mind away from your everyday concerns. Doing your favourite thing, whether dancing, cooking, reading, listening to music, exercise or whatever else, brings focus. When we put all of our love and attention into an activity, we can’t help but drop into the richness of the present moment.
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5. Eating is A Solo Activity
A habit that many people get into is to make mealtimes a multi-tasking activity. Many of us now eat in front of a device; a T.V, laptop, phone or tablet. Give your mind a rest and switch it all off. Take the time to actually enjoy your meal, to revel in the sensations offered by your food and have a moment of spaciousness and integration.
This article was written for us by International Mindfulness Advocate and Conscious Visionary, Neil Seligman. Neil is dedicated to sharing the power of mindfulness globally, transforming lives, and inspiring excellence in all aspects of human endeavour. He is the Founder of The Conscious Professional, the Author of 100 Mindfulness Meditations, and the Originator of Soul Portrait Photography. For more information about Neil, visit his page here