What is Mindfulness? Mindfulness consists of cultivating awareness of the mind and body and experiencing life in the here and now. It means being fully aware and present without judgement or filters. Historically mindfulness was associated with meditation connected to the original traditions of Buddhism as a spiritual practice. Today in a hectic and even sometimes chaotic world, mindfulness has expanded far beyond its original spiritual roots and extends to encompass mental and emotional well-being. Today doctors are beginning to prescribe mindfulness practices to help people deal with pain, illness, stress and grief.
Some people believe that mindfulness is completely related to meditation and that it would take precious time from a busy day to practice mindfulness techniques and exercises. Mindfulness is effective for that very same reason, it creates some time to reflect, and give you some space from a particularly stressful situation. Practicing mindfulness also allows us to recognize and correct destructive thoughts or behaviours before or as they occur and effect us.
Rather than take significant chunks of time from your day there are several easy things that we can do during the course of our day to become mindful. In fact author Donald Altman has written a book titled One-Minute Mindfulness: 50 Simple Ways to Find Peace, Clarity, and New Possibilities in a Stressed-Out World. Here are some simple practices that you can employ during the day to increase your mindfulness, reduce stress and increase the positive energy in your life.
1. Find pleasantness at work.
You can find pleasantness in simple things: a song, a sound, a favorite color, a scent or a flower.. All you have to do is scan your surroundings and you’ll find something pleasant. Carry pleasurable items with you or and bring a pleasant object to work – such as a photo of a loved one, a flower, or something meaningful to you. Take time to look at it too, consider its meaning to you and relive the positive feeling the object brings.
2. Perform one small act of kindness you can do for someone.
For instance, in a minute, you can send a sweet email or give a compliment, smile, tell someone you care, help someone in some way. You can also take a minute or two to consider something nice that someone has done for you recently. If you’re working from home or spending your day at home or alone – do something kind for yourself
3. Bring a dose of creativity to your workday.
Try to do one small creative thing at work or in your day. Even a doodle can help you stop and be mindful. If you think that you’re not creative take a minute to say an affirmation. Here are a couple of examples from Altman’s book. “The treasure of creativity is available to me at all times,” or “I let go of expectation and let creativity come to me.”
4. Take time to connect with nature.
Slip off your shoes and stand on the grass barefoot. Feel yourself growing roots and connecting to the Earth. Take time to breathe deeply. In a cool climate try hugging a tree! I cannot stress enough how important it is to BREATHE! Most of us breathe very shallowly. Our body thrives on fresh deep breaths; it slows us down and immediately alleviates pressure and stress.
Just these simple practices will help you connect to the here and now and help your journey to Mindfulness.