Mindfulness is everywhere at the moment, but it’s much more than just a trendy fad and offers lots of benefits to those who practice it. From reducing stress to helping you be fully present in the important moments in life, mindfulness can help improve how you feel day to day. The meditation technique has even been shown to help relieve symptoms of illnesses like depression and anxiety, as well as enhancing the quality of life of those who practice it.
You might think t you simply don’t have time to spend hours sitting quietly and focusing on your thoughts every day. However, mindfulness isn’t a practice like yoga that requires equipment, clothing, or an allocated amount of time to complete. Along with some expert mindfulness coaches, we’ve put together this guide to how you can start practising mindfulness every day and keep doing it.
Most of us live incredibly busy lives, which can make it feel like an impossible task to fit anything else in between answering all your emails and feeding the kids. Mindfulness doesn’t have to take long, however. In fact, just a few moments of mindfulness a day is all you need according to Cathy of Office Om: “Don't feel like you have to sit and meditate for hours, evidence shows benefits from just a few minutes per day.”
Kate Beddow agrees that you shouldn’t be put off by the idea that meditating takes a long time, saying: “There is a misconception that to do something mindfully you have to spend ages doing it. Which isn’t true. You can brush your teeth mindfully by being aware of the bristles on your teeth and gums and the taste of the toothpaste, by breathing and being present while you do it instead of thinking about what you need to do for the rest of the day. Remember, it isn’t what you do, it’s how you do it.”
Getting started practising mindfulness is incredibly easy, you can even work it into your daily routine. Karen Liebenguth of Green Space Coaching recommends practising mindfulness while you’re doing another everyday activity: “Choose one activity daily that you do mindfully, for example brushing your teeth, having a shower, getting dressed, washing up or boiling the kettle. Set an intention every morning to pay attention to one activity.”
Cathy from Office Om agrees that developing mindful habits is a great way to practice this meditation technique without having to carve out extra time. She says: “Sometimes, a seated mindfulness practice can feel tricky. However, we can all be more mindful in the things we do every day. Try a mindful conversation where you really focus on the other person, perhaps the colour of their eyes and the content of what they are saying. We can wash up mindfully, brush our teeth mindfully and eat our lunch mindfully. Pick something that feels good to you and engages your senses in the activity each day.”
Mindfulness is hard to practice if you are always hard on yourself, expecting to achieve total peace the very first time you try meditating. Sometimes, people can be put off because they struggle to control their thoughts and relax. Cath of Office Om, finds that this is common among people she works with: “So often I hear people say, 'I can't do mindfulness', but a big part of mindfulness is being kind to ourselves in the practice.
“Don't feel like you need to clear your mind, just notice whatever thoughts or images are there. If your mind gets carried away with thoughts of what's for dinner, what's happening on your phone or some fabulous thing you need to buy, just notice the thought and let it go. Focus less on 'doing it right' and more on being curious and compassionate about whatever you do experience.”
Something as simple as just slowing down a little in your fast paced life can be a way to practice mindfulness. Karen Liebengith of Green Space Coaching suggests: “Notice your pace when you go about your day-to-day life. Find opportunities to practice slowing down, for example, when you go to the bathroom, to the next meeting, when you do your shopping. Notice what it’s like when you slow down just a bit.”
Focused breathing is a great way to practice mindfulness and feel its benefits straight away. This practice is very effective for helping to manage stress, releasing tension in both the body and the mouth. Kate Beddow believes that focused breathing is an essential starting point for learning to practice mindfulness. She says: “The starting point for me is learning to tune into your breath. Learning to breathe properly and really pay attention to our breathing is a powerful and life-changing thing.
“My favourite breathing technique for paying attention to your breath is called “I am” breathing. It is so simple. As you breathe in you think the word “I” and as you breathe out you think the word “am”. Simple. As you inhale, pay particular attention to the moment you begin to exhale. As you exhale, notice the pause before you begin to inhale again.”
Karen Liebenguth of Green Space Coaching adds: “For a few moments follow your in-and out-breath. When your mind wanders off, gently bring it back to your breath. And when your mind wanders off again, bring it back again. Noticing when your mind wanders off is a great moment of awareness and at the heart of mindfulness practice.”
Once you have explored these ways of working mindfulness practice into your daily routine, you might wish to progress to a more formal way of practising. To do this, you might want to set a little time reminder when you can spend a small amount of time practising mindfulness each day. Karen Liebenguth of Green Space Coaching recommends starting with just 10 minutes a day in a quiet spot, where you won’t be disturbed:
“During these 10 minutes, notice any bodily sensations. Start with your feet and scan through your body and notice any aches, pains, itches, tensions, warm and soft areas. Then notice how you are, what is your feeling tone? After that, notice any thoughts that run through your mind. Then, gently bring your awareness to your breath and notice where you most feel the breath in your body. It may be around your nose or mouth, in your chest or in your belly. There is no right or wrong, the practice is to notice with a kindly attitude.”
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