If you’ve never tried a mindfulness practice then you should start.
I try to meditate as often as I can remember because I know it benefits me, even though it can sometimes feel like I’m sitting around and doing nothing.
If I don’t get around to meditating in the traditional sense (seated, in silence, with my eyes closed) then I turn my actions into a meditative practice.
Yoga is an obvious one. Paying attention to my body in space– how it moves, how it feels, how it changes. I do it when I lift weights too.
Sometimes I create a mindfulness practice when I walk the dog. Noticing the temperature of the air, the sounds I’m hearing, and noticing my own state. Am I trying to rush through the walk? Am I thinking about other things? Am I stressed or anxious?
I even work on mindfulness in the shower where, left to my own devices, I would be so scatterbrained that I’d forget whether I shampoo’d and do it twice.
It’s nothing much. It doesn’t seem like it requires a lot of effort but when you actually stop and try pay attention to the present, to how your mind bounces around or fixates itself on something, or to what your body is experiencing it can be a challenge to remain focused. It takes practice.
The benefits of mindfulness are numerous and as more studies come out touting the health benefits of staying present, it’s becoming a no brainer, like flossing your teeth.
For example, a recent study on mindfulness therapy and depression “established that mindfulness-based therapy is equally as good as drugs, which could offer a new option for those who do not want to be on medication for years.”
“It teaches people to recognise that negative thoughts and feelings will return, but that they can disengage from them. Rather than worrying constantly about them, people can become aware of them, understand them and accept them, and avoid being dragged down into a spiral leading back to depression.”
Want to try it?
Here’s a very simple exercise you can try anywhere at any time:
Focus on your breath for one minute.
Breathe in and out slowly. Your mind will drift and, when it does, notice your thoughts then return to your breath.