Anything in life that is truly worth doing – is not easy. It is easy to forget this when we see others doing really well and making the difficult seem like a cinch. We don’t see all the hard work that goes into the background.
But in our own areas of expertise, we have had to start from level zero and apply ourselves over time to gain the knowledge and experience akin to being proficient.
When it comes to mindfulness, a key practice for our mental health, it feels like it’s something that should come naturally. All we need to do is focus our attention on the present moment, and we will be able to get it right. Mindfulness has been proven to calm the mind, ground the body, and increase overall well-being and good health, scientifically and spiritually.
We understand that it’s worth doing, but in practice, it’s not that easy. We get distracted, our thoughts run all over the show, and before we know it, we’re no longer practising mindfulness.
Mindfulness is an incredible tool to help us make better decisions around our finances, relationships, career and extracts more enjoyment and fulfilment from the activities that we love so much.
Here are a few ideas that we can all work on, gradually and steadily, to grow our mastery of mindfulness and make this journey a little easier.
DO EVERYTHING SLOWLY
Consciously slow down. Walk slowly, drink slowly, sit slowly, breathe slowly, talk slowly, move your body slowly — practice slowing down your natural tendency to rush everything. When we wake up to an alarm clock, judge our travel time by traffic flows, set meetings for productive hours in the day, watch the clock during dinners and keep trying to get to bed earlier, we’re living by the clock. And this will always leave us feeling rushed.
Slowing down helps us break the grip of ‘always feeling rushed’ and helps us focus on what we’re doing right now. When you slow your breathing – you’re focused on the air going in and going out. You’re probably doing it right now as you read this – and that’s a super start! You’re already more mindful.
Whenever your world starts to spin a little too fast, witness your breath and feel yourself begin to slow down.
LET EATING BECOME A SENSORY EXPLOSION
There’s a moment in the 2007 Disney movie, Ratatouille, where Remy and Emile taste some cheese that was struck by lighting. Visually, as Remy takes a bite, we see the background fade into a fireworks display, and his face shows the visceral delight in this new taste experience.
When we want to improve our mindfulness muscles, we can do it with every meal and snack during the day. As we slow those down (not eating on the run…), we can experience more of the flavour, texture and benefits of what we are putting in our bodies.
SPEND MORE TIME IN NATURE
We’ve said it many times in our blogs, spending time in nature is healing and helpful on so many levels. It boosts happy-hormones, improves our air intake, stimulates creativity and reduces emotional tension. But – it also makes mindfulness easier.
Living indoors all day tends to restrict the mind immensely. By going outside, we open our minds to experiencing more expansion and relaxation.
If we’re walking a little slower (let’s assume we’re not trying to get our lifestyle-plan points!), we will be able to commit to watching, smelling and hearing whatever comes into our field of stimulation. Experts say that doing this for at least half an hour a day is all we need to begin making mindfulness easier.
We can work on mindfulness of sounds, smells, flavors, feelings/textures, and what we see and start small. Focus on one mindfulness exercise and commit time to it each day. As this becomes easier, you can journal your experiences (this enhances mindfulness of a recent experience) and reflect on what you’ve learned or how you’ve changed. Be kind to yourself and have some fun with it!