Time to clear that Mental Clutter!
So what exactly is mindfulness?
It’s about being fully present ‘in the now’, aware of where you are and what you’re doing. Well, that’s the simple answer, but we know it’s easier said than done.In our busy world, our minds can easily become distracted, and we can find ourselves dwelling in the past or fretting about the future. Often we lose touch with the present moment – with the task that we’re doing, with what’s actually happening right now. Mindfulness allows us to disengage from this mental ‘clutter’ and to have a clear mind. It makes it possible for us to respond rather than react to situations. As a result, our decision-making improves, along with our potential for physical and mental relaxation.
The good news is that mindfulness is something anyone can learn, and there are many ways to become more mindful in life. However, just like any new skill, it takes regular practice to have positive effects. Think of it as training for your brain.
How to bring mindfulness into your everyday life
There are many ways to practise mindfulness. You can follow a guided mindfulness meditation, such as the one in the podcast.
You can also bring mindfulness to your daily tasks. This can help to train your brain and improve your daily practice. These tips can also be a good starting point for those wanting to learn more.
These days, so many of us are eating on the run or eating so fast that we barely get a chance to taste our food. When you’re eating mindfully, you’re not also watching TV or sitting at your work-desk, or scrolling through Instagram with a sandwich in your other hand. You’re just eating – and enjoying every mouthful of it.
Bring more mindfulness to your meals by:
taking proper time-out for mealtimes, away from screens or other distractions
chewing thoughtfully (tasting each and every bite and noticing all the colours, textures and flavours)
putting your cutlery down between mouthfuls
simply enjoying the feelings and satisfaction that good food brings.
The research is still in its early days, but other than simply getting to properly enjoy food, growing evidence suggests that mindful eating can help in the treatment of eating disorders, food cravings and weight loss. It appears to help with appetite control. In one study, participants who ate their lunch mindfully snacked on significantly less cookies later in the day than participants in other non-mindful groups.
Remember to download the poster of mindful eating tips and pop it on your fridge, pantry door or display it by your kitchen table.
Throughout the day, there are many moments when you can practise mindfulness. Choose an activity that you do most days – such as catching the bus to work, washing the dishes or having a shower – and use this activity as a way to practise. When you start the activity, gently bring your awareness to the present moment – to the sights, sounds and sensations you’re experiencing in the now. If your focus strays and you start planning what to have for dinner, gently bring your mind back to the present moment.
Next time you have to get from A to B, why not use the time to walk mindfully? The rhythm and repetition of your footsteps can set a calming pace and also gives you something to focus on. With every step, bring your awareness back to your breath and back to the present moment, feel the movement of your body and legs until you reach a steady flow – and your destination.
Inside your e-Booklet from Jean Hailes, you'll find some great techniques for practising mindfulness. Anyone can do it, and learn to experience life as it happens.