‘Mindfulness’ has entered the vocabulary of the mainstream in recent years and seems like it’s here to stay, but what does it actually mean?
To be mindful is to be conscious, aware and basically in the moment. While we might associate the term only with dedicated meditation or yoga, it is more than that; it really just means giving your full attention to thoughts, feelings and emotions as well as the way the body feels. When we are not worrying about the future or dwelling on the past, but we are fully focused on what is happening in front of us or inside of our bodies and brains, we are mindful.
Mindfulness can often be mixed up with:
- Something spiritual- being mindful and practising mindfulness is not inherently spiritual or religious. Any of us, regardless of belief can benefit from the practise of mindful meditation.
- With getting rid of thoughts- mindfulness is more about observing thoughts as they come and go and not focusing obsessively on them to the point where you can’t focus on what you’re doing.
- Meditation- mindfulness and meditation often get lumped together but they are not the same thing. Mindfulness enriches meditation and meditation expands mindfulness.
- Magic- mindfulness isn’t a one stop cure for all mental health issues. It can work better for and come easy to some people and take a long time to even understand for others.
Some simple ways to try and stay mindful:
- When you are next out on a walk, name five things you can see or hear.
- With your next meal, turn off your phone and the TV and completely focus on the tastes and textures as you chew.
- When you are next on public transport or a passenger in the car, focus on the way your body feels sat down, on the way you move over bumps and how your body turns with the road.
Credit: Charly Brown