Be mindful of yourself!
‘What does that mean?’ you ask.
Well, in short, mindfulness is simply the state of mind where you’re totally in tune with the thoughts, feelings and emotions flowing through your mind and body without judging or criticising them in any way. That’s some deep stuff, right?
It’s being fully aware of whatever is happening in the present moment without being trapped in the past or worrying about the future. Being mindful is totally easy! You could try simple practices such as the Breathing Meditation, eating, walking, or exercising. In fact, you can use anything to become more mindful. Literally anything!
Mindful chocolate eating
Yes, seriously, eating chocolate. Eating can be a great mindfulness exercise. If you like chocolate, why not turn it into a mini meditation?
Close your eyes, break off a piece of chocolate and spend a few moments inhaling its aroma. Put the chocolate in your mouth and allow it to melt (don’t gulp it down!). Chocolate has over 300 different flavours. As it melts in your mouth, see if you can taste some of them. When you feel ready, swallow the chocolate. If you feel like it, break off another piece and allow it to melt in your mouth.
You can adapt this meditation and use it with any food or drink at all. Maybe try an apple, pizza, carrot, pizza, sandwich, pizza… pizza. Eat pizza.
Mindfulness in the park
Next time you’re walking through a park, pause, close your eyes, and spend a few moments listening to all of the sounds that surround you. Notice how they rise and fall. Listen to the whole soundscape. Pay attention to the smell of the flowers, the grass, the trees… Notice how your chest rises and falls with your breath. Gently open your eyes and take in all that you can see. Just chill.
A simple breathing meditation
Meditation can be simple and doesn’t require any special equipment. In fact, all you need is:
1. A Chair
2. A Body
3. Some Air
4. Your Mind
5. That’s it
Here we go!
1 - Sit erect but relaxed in a straight-backed chair with your feet flat on the floor. Or you can lie on a mat or blanket on the floor, or on your bed. Allow your arms and hands to relax.
2 - Gently close your eyes and focus your awareness on the breath as it flows into and out of your body. Feel the sensations the air makes as it flows through your mouth or nose, down your throat and into your lungs. Feel your chest and stomach rise and fall as you breathe in and out. Focus your awareness on where the sensations are strongest. Stay in contact with each in-breath and out-breath. Observe them without trying to alter them in any way or expecting anything special to happen.
3 - When your mind wanders, gently shepherd it back to the breath. Try not to criticise yourself. Minds wander. It’s what they do. The act of realising that your mind has wandered — and encouraging it to return to focus on the breath — is mindfulness.
4 - Your mind may or may not become calm. If it does, this may only be short-lived. It may become filled with thoughts or powerful emotions such as fear, anger, stress or love. These may also be fleeting. Whatever happens, observe without reacting or trying to change anything. Gently return your awareness back to the sensations of breathing again and again.
5 - After a few minutes, or longer if you prefer, gently open your eyes and take in your surroundings.
And there you have it - you’re a mindfulness guru!
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