We live in a time where suicide rates are on the up and good mental health is on the down. We all have very fast paced lives thanks to technology and sometimes we just need to unwind and reboot. This is where mindfulness can help.
What is Mindfulness?
By definition Mindfulness is:
“a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.”
In my words, Mindfulness is becoming fully aware of your surroundings. You have to forget everything about the past and the future. Focus only on the present and what exists around you. Use your senses to immerse yourself in your surroundings.
Misconceptions of Mindfulness
If you think Mindfulness can only be practiced alone and in silence you’ve been mislead.
Mindfulness is not meditation, although that is how many choose to practice mindfulness. It can be practiced anywhere as long is you can use your full attention. You could practice Mindfulness anywhere, like a festival or in the office and with anyone from your children to your boss as long as they are willing to accept it or join in.
How To Does It Work?
Anybody can use Mindfulness to help them escape the stress and anxieties they might be facing. Even if you don’t understand it, it’s very easy to do on your own.
1. Turn off your phone.
2. Go for a walk (somewhere you are less likely to meet anybody)
3. Take a deep breath and enjoy the fresh air.
4. Look at a tree. How many parts are there to that tree? The trunk, the branches, the leaves. Focus on the trunk, what do you see? The bark. What colour is it? Khaki? Is there moss on it? Are there knots in the wood? Are there birds in the tree?
Now look at the branches. Are they thick or thin? Are the long or short? Is there a lot of them?
Now look at the leaves. What shape are they? What colour are they? Are they smooth or textured? Is the tree making a sound? Is it moving? Why is it moving? And so on…
See how it’s all about focussing on what is there in front of you.
Mindfulness With Children
As this is a family blog, most of my audience have either children or grandchildren and since us parents don’t have a lot of time to ourselves, it’s important to know that we can practice mindfulness with the children.
As I said earlier mindfulness does not have to be silent, which is just as well since children rarely are. However, it works best when the children are calm so best not to try after the kids have had their snack.
There are plenty of mindful activities to do with children, like art’s and crafts or playing an instrument but my favourite activity (perfect for younger children) is perfectly portrayed by Cbeebies’ “The Baby Club”. If you haven’t seen it yet, then you can watch an episode here.
1. Turn off your phone.
2. Get a bag (preferably fabric) or a pillowcase.
3. Put an object inside. Any object as long as it’s clean and safe for your child.
4. Sit with your child and help them guess what is inside the bag. Ask them questions about the shape of it or the sound of it. With older children you can then let them have a feel inside the bag and ask them about the texture. Finally, take the object out of the bag and talk to your child about the colour or pattern. Does the object do something?
The key to being mindful successfully is a lack of distractions. This means no phone, no tv, no tablet or any other devices that may distract your attention.
Why Be Mindful
Being mindful in this sense is so therapeutic for the mind and soul. The first time you try it is like a breath of fresh air. We are so caught up in technology that that our worries always follows us.
It used to be that you did something embarrassing on a night out and it was only the people you were with that saw it. Now, thanks to the internet, everybody can see it. We used to confront people face to face and have arguments face to face and once something was said it could be forgotten but now it’s done through text and the message is there until you AND the other person deletes it. We used to live our own lives but thanks to social media, we are wrapped up in everybody else’s “lives” too.
Put the phone down and take a minute to come up for air.
I worry that most people think a tree is just brown and green. And that the sky is just blue and white. I worry that they forget how simple but how beautiful life can be.
Mindfulness can help us relax, focus, self discipline and live a healthier lifestyle. It can take us places that your busy, grinding side of life can’t.