A guest post from Jo Holloway-Green, Founder of The Mindful Hub; a website and blog aiming to make mindfulness accessible to all. www.mindfulhub.co.uk
Mindfulness sounds a bit intimidating. If you’ve never heard of it you could be forgiven for having to ask what it is? The opposite of forgetfulness? Something to do with thinking? In fact it’s kind of the opposite of thinking, so that’s even more confusing.
Mindfulness is the term used to live in the present moment ,accept life as it is, without judgement and avoid dwelling in the past, or anxiety about future events which haven’t yet happened. It’s kind, it’s gentle and it’s a way of being compassionate to yourself, without a great big bar of chocolate or a glass of wine!
There are a few key components to mindfulness;
Taking time out and meditating is a really important aspect, whether that’s just sitting peacefully in silence, concentrating on your breath, going to a meditation group and having a guided meditation, or picking one off Youtube and following it. This is often the only real time we have to give our brains ‘time off’. In the modern world we’re so busy and preoccupied, that thoughts fly through our mind subconsciously on a regular basis. Sitting and practicing a restful mind, allowing thoughts to come and go and not to dwell on them, will really help bring peace. There’s been scientific evidence meditation helps, not just mental but also physical health. This can also be a real challenge, especially if you’re not used to meditating, or even sitting quietly. The trick is not to beat yourself up. Find yourself a regular time to meditate, and then sit there for that time. If you have a thought, acknowledge it, and then let it go. There’ll be another one, and probably another one but you will find the more you practice, the more stillness between thoughts you’ll get.
Another hard one. Mindfulness teaches compassion, both to others regardless of circumstances, and to ourselves. This is one I really struggle with. I can be really kind to others, but to myself? Come on! Simple exercises such as completing a nourishing and depleting list – of things you that make you nourish you and bring wellbeing and things that drain you, and picking something off your nourishing list is a start. When we are compassionate to ourselves and others, this releases actual chemicals which make us feel better.
Living in the Present
I feel like saying again this is a hard one, so I am guessing when you start practicing mindfulness it can all seem hard, probably because it’s so alien to our modern way of life. We’re so used to plan, plan, plan and taking time off to just watch the tree wave in the breeze, or sit with a cup of coffee and just listen to birdsong, or take a walk and feel, hear, see and smell everything around you can seem like a task in itself. Again this is giving your brain space to be, and not to have to think. It can bring renewed energy, a sense of peace, and of gratitude of actually being alive in a pretty amazing world
A big part of mindfulness and a great way to feel amazing. Have you ever tried a gratitude journal? I write in one most days, all the things I am grateful for. For example spending time with family, a project finished at work, or a day of eating healthily. When you look back over your entries you’ll be surprised how many things you can be grateful for and how often these are the simple things in life.
Sometimes things are shitty. They just are. Or you really wish you were five inches taller, and it’s just not going to happen (thinking of my Mum on this one!) accepting things as they are can be a struggle, but the release of not having to strive again will bring a great sense of peace.
It all sounds like fairly simple stuff doesn’t it? Or perhaps you’re reading this and thinking ‘I don’t have time for all of that’. I challenge you to give it a go and see what happens. You’ve nothing to lose, the only investment you need to give is of yourself. I’d be really interested to hear your experiences of trying mindfulness or getting started. Good luck!