With the increased focus on our mental health and well being over the last few years, the idea of cultivating a ‘mindful’ approach to living has become hugely popular.
We are told that ‘mindfulness’ is a practical tool that can help us lead a less stressful, more rewarding life but what exactly is mindfulness? And how can you start integrating it into your daily routine?
You’re first inclination might be to go out and buy the latest book on mindfulness or search for answers online but with so many books and so much online content available on the subject, it can be a little daunting to take your first steps towards a more mindful life. Instead I’m going to recommend a different approach – forget about the books and trawling through Google and instead lets just start practising mindfulness today!
What is ‘mindfulness’?
‘Whenever you bring awareness to what you’re directly experiencing via your senses, or to your state of mind via your thoughts and emotions, you’re being mindful’
So mindfulness is all about placing your attention on what’s happening in the ‘here and now’. I find this definition of ‘mindfulness’ really helpful as it’s essentially telling us that to be mindful is to simply stop and take stock. By allowing ourselves a few moments each day to check-in on how we’re feeling and what we’re experiencing we can markedly lower our stress levels and have a more fulfilling day. We’ve often heard the advice ‘stop and take a deep breath’ or ‘stop and count to ten’ which both are in essence to say ‘stop for a moment and be mindful’.
Mindful in our exercise
Those of us who exercise or play sports regularly will be familiar with the release of stress and tension that we get from a workout, run, or training session. The mental health benefits from physical exercise are well documented – it relieves stress, improves our memory, and boosts our mood.
While exercising and playing sports we allow our brains the opportunity to be at one with our bodies. Exercise gives us the chance to step back from the constant processing of plans, worries, and concerns that occupy us throughout the day and instead focus on the here and now – our run, our swim, the match etc. In these moments we are, in essence, directly experiencing via our senses. As our mind stops racing we give it a chance to recalibrate. Very often after exercising we see issues or concerns in a different light, often with more clarity and positivity. This is mindfulness at work.
Mindfulness throughout the day
The wonderful thing about mindfulness is that there is no right or wrong way to practise it. You just need to stop for a few moments and check-in with yourself and your surroundings. If you can do this for a few minutes each day you will begin to see the benefits of becoming more mindful almost immediately. As I wrote in a previous post – 3 Simple Tips to be Stress-Free - your goal is to just ‘tune-in’ to your immediate surroundings and bring all your attention and focus to that moment. It may sound a little wishy-washy but it works and you will begin to notice just how much your thoughts try and drag you away from that present moment.
A really effective way to practice mindfulness is to bring your focus to your breath. It’s a form of meditation that can be really effective in getting the mind off its hamster wheel and brings calmness and focus to your day. This simple exercise of placing your attention on your breath as you inhale and exhale, even if it’s just for 30 seconds at your desk or in the car, can help you become more focused and in control as you go about your day. This is mindfulness in action.
After a visit to a spa, you not only feel physically re-energized but also mentally rejuvenated. You get away from the hustle and bustle and allow your mind to rest, a mental holiday from all the running around and mental gymnastics of your hectic lifestyle. At Rainforest Spa we are very focused on creating an environment of serenity and calmness where you can be mindful and relaxed and really check back in with your inner self. Visit Rainforest Spa for a list of rejuvenating spa and beauty treatments to help you unwind, recharge and ready to face the world again. With our spa booking software partner Phorest you can now book your next appointment online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week; it’s that simple.
There are many little changes (see our previous 15 Little Changes to Reap Big Rewards post) that you can make to help lead a more fulfilling life and allowing yourself a few minutes everyday to practise mindfulness can be one of the most rewarding. So starting today commit to taking 2 minutes in the morning and 2 minutes in the evening to stop what you’re doing and focus on your breath, your sensations and the world around you. It can also be helpful to use a guided meditation to help you focus and an excellent free resource for both short and long meditations can be found on the Insight Timer app.
If you can make a habit of practicing mindfulness for these few minutes each day you will see your stress levels decrease and begin to experience life and the world around you more deeply.