What is Mindfulness?
What do you believe mindfulness is?
We often think the key to being happy and healthy is clean eating and a moderate amount of exercise. There are other ways of nourishing our self-care and cultivating our sense of wellness. One of those ways is through mindfulness. Today I want to share with you my best mindfulness tips.
How can we be more mindful everyday? I have found that practicing mindfulness each day – whether sitting quietly on a meditation pillow, meditating to a CD or YouTube video or, chanting mantras often helps me begin my day in a much more calm, relaxing peaceful state.
Let’s start today’s post with – What is mindfulness? Mindfulness involves paying attention to our thoughts and feelings with the attitude of an impartial witness — without believing them, or judging them or taking them personally.
I like Jon Kabat Zinn definition of mindfulness: “Paying attention; On purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.” So what does that mean in our everyday life. I suggest we take the first step of mindfulness and slow down, be present and stay in the moment… Slowing down begins when we make a conscious effort to choose to go more slowly — our aim is to simplify, be more grateful, calm and at peace with ourselves and the world around us.
What would it feel like if we – ate more slowly, walked more slowly, talked more slowly, breathed more slowly. How would our day change if we stayed in the present moment. Not the future ….not the past. What if you recognize that you’re moving fast but don’t know how to slow down? This is where mindfulness comes in…. “just breathe”
- The simplest way to come back to the present is through your breath. Taking a deep, long breath helps you come back to the present so you can slow down your thoughts. Mindfulness is not blocking those thoughts but recognizing / noticing them and choosing to let them go for now. This allows you to continue along with your day with grace and ease and stay present.
Sounds easy peasy?…in theory… right?
My 5 Best Mindfulness Tips to Incorporate Into Your Practice.
This isn’t always ‘easy’ for me to do, however I’m beginning to be more comfortable with my practice. EACH morning I try to make time to be mindful and start my day on the right foot. Usually I sit quietly on my meditation pillow and just breathe. If my mind wanders and it usually does, I just come back to my breath.
Tip 1 If your mind really wanders: (It is perfectly normal for your mind to wander. Many people think they are doing something wrong, but just remember sometimes your mind will be very busy and at other times it will be much more quiet.
Practicing mindfulness (20 minutes) in the mornings before I go to work gives me a clear head and I feel more energized. It makes me feel ready to greet the day! If you are looking for more information about mindfulness, I suggest you check out one of my favorite inspirational mindfulness experts Tara Brach.)
I prefer to do a formal practice in the morning, however, you can choose to do mindfulness anytime during the day. Some people like to do a body scan in the evening.
- One strategy you can try is to count your in and out breaths. You might say breathe in 1, breathe out 2; breathe in 3, breathe out 4; breathe in 5, breathe out 6; breathe in 7, breathe out 8; breathe in 9, breathe out 10. When you get to 10 you start all over again.
- A second strategy that might work for you is to label your thoughts. For example, you might say to yourself “that’s worry” or ‘that’s anger” and then say “let it go”.
- A third strategy that helps me is to imagine a slow moving stream and leaves floating down that stream. As thoughts arise visualize them on a leaf and watch them float on down the stream and slowly disappear.
*It’s important to remember you are not trying to stop your thoughts. The goal of mindfulness is to stay in the present moment.”
Tip 2 Practice Gratitude Everyday ( I was inspired to start the practice of gratitude through my readings with Louise Hay, Tara Brach and Gabby Bernstein.) Gratitude is “simply the act of expressing thanks” for the things you have in your life! One thing I’ve learned is that even when you are having a terrible day there are always things you can be grateful for.
- Create a habit of expressing gratitude in writing – you can use a diary, a journal, an app, Instagram …. where you write / draw / take pictures of a list of things you are grateful for. (I try to list 10 things each day and I try not to repeat any ideas during the week.)
Tip 3 Listen to a Guided Meditation (Some people find they like to listen to a guided meditaion as they sit mindfully as it helps them stay present.)
- I like listening to Tara Brach, Louise Hay and Gabby Bernstein
- YouTube has some wonderful meditations – check out the Honest Guys for something a little different
Tip 4 Be Mindful Throughout Your Day (I try to remember to practice being mindful – being present – throughout my day.)
- be mindful while you are brushing your teeth
- with each sip of coffee: take time to smell the aroma; taste the robust flavour; think about what went into making your coffee – where did the beans come from? Who picked the beans? How did the coffee get to the store….
- take a mindful walk
- be mindful when you wash the dishes, fold the clothes, talk to you spouse…..
Tip 5 Use Mantras and/or Daily Affirmations (Mantras and Affirmations are often used interchangeably, however they are different. From what I can tell affirmations seemed to have become popular in the 1970s by neuroscientists that brought together psychology and linguistics to address self-help.
They tend to be sentences about things we wish to have in the present. They do not appear to be repeated as often as mantras. Louise Hay, a pioneer in the area of affirmations is well-known for her books on affirmations and healing.
Examples of affirmations are “I am whole and perfect;” “I am beautiful”; “I am love”. Mantras have been around for 1000s of years and were often part of ancient mind-body practices. Many mantras were written in the Hindu language of Sanskrit.
Mantras are typically one word, syllable or phrase that helps you focus and deepen your mindfulness practice. Examples of mantras include words like “Om” or “Love” or phrases like “Sa Ta Na Ma”. According to the Mayo Clinic, people who take part in these type of positive activities promoting positive thinking or self-talk can lead to
- living longer
- better stress control
- better coping skills when difficult issues come up
- less death from heart diseases
- increased immunity – less flu and colds
- lower rates of depression.
How to use mantras or affirmations?
- I include a mantra as part of my daily practice. I like to find mantras on the internet – usually YouTube and then listen to them first thing in the morning before or sometimes after I do my 20 minutes of quiet ‘sitting’ time.
- I will often repeat the mantra at various times throughout the day…A good way to do this to pick a “reminder” (every time you take a drink of water from your water bottle you repeat your mantra or your affirmation or just take a breath)
- You could also set your alarm on your phone for various intervals.
- Lastly, you can also repeat your mantra or affirmation each time you get up from your desk
A great website to learn more about mindfulness is through a Free online course MBSR (“Online Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR).This online MBSR training course is 100% free, created by a fully certified MBSR instructor, and is based on the program founded by Jon Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.”)
So what do you think of my “Best Mindfulness Tips“? Do you think Mindfulness is for you?
With each post I would like to leave you with one of my healthy recipes and a quote to hopefully make you smile?
Crockpot Chicken Noodle Soup
- 2 cups chopped cooked chicken (use chicken leftovers or rotisserie chicken)
- 300g noodles (your favourite pasta)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup carrots, peeled / sliced thin (about 2 large carrots)
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1 large onion, mince or chop
- 2 stalks of celery, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 8-10 mini tomatoes (chopped in half)
- 8 cups (or about 2 Litres) low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 teaspoon tumeric
- Salt and black pepper, to taste
- garnish with fresh parsley leaves
- (you can also use up any old veggies you have in the fridge – I will sometimes put in kale or spinach, tomatoes…what ever we haven’t eaten that week)
Directions: Mindfully chop chicken and veggies. Put all ingredients in your crockpot first thing in the morning. Set timer temperature to LOW. Leave to cook/simmer until supper time. Enjoy with a some grated cheese…. Remember to eat you soup ‘mindfully’ at dinner time! This homemade soup will be chalked full of chunky vegetables and tender noodles. I love making this soup as it is a great way to use up any leftovers. Feel free to adapt your chicken soup recipe by swapping out veggies, spices or noodles.
Lastly I leave you with the following quote to enjoy! Quote: “What would it be like if I could accept life – accept this moment – exactly as it is?” – Tara Brach The practice of mindfulness is definitely serving me well. I hope it serves you, too.
Until next time,
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