Mindfulness is the catch phrase of the moment. But what is it exactly? Quite simply, mindfulness is another way of looking at the ancient practise of meditation. It’s a way of simplifying it and making it a part of everything you do as you go through your day. There is now indisputable scientific proof that meditation actually makes your brain bigger! Even simple techniques such as concentrating on breathing helps build denser grey matter in parts of the brain associated with learning and memory. These changes are significant enough to be picked up by an MRI in as little as 8 weeks. How extraordinary is that?
Here Ora Nadrich, a Life Coach and Mindfulness Meditation teacher, shows us how to incorporate Mindfulness into our lives.
Mindfulness is being in the present moment with total awareness, an open heart, and non-‐judgment, but if we don’t value or cultivate this quality that each of us inherently has, we cannot enjoy or appreciate the moments of our lives as fully and as richly as we can. Unless you make an effort to be fully present in each moment that you’re alive in, you cannot experience mindfulness, which is equivalent to not using all of your senses at an optimum level.
The reason mindfulness can be challenging to maintain is that from the minute we wake up in the morning, our mind usually goes fast forward into what’s going to happen next in our day, e.g. the things we have to do, the things we’re worried about, and even things that “could” or “might” happen. Our very active mind is often focused on the next moment other than staying present in the moment that it’s in, and if it’s not doing that, it’s going backwards, thinking about what happened in the past, which can go as far back as our childhood. If we don’t keep our mind focused on the present moment that we’re in, it can feel like it’s dragging us around like a dog on a leash to wherever it pleases, and if we don’t reign it in from time to time, it can wreak havoc, as if we’re walking around with an out of control child who’s running our lives!
So how do you control a mind that wants to be anywhere but the moment that you’re in, or make you feel like it’s bossing you around or diminishing you in some way? You become an “observer” of your mind, which means you watch it as if you were standing outside of yourself like a witness, and when it tries to escape the moment that it’s in or disrupt it, you become aware that it’s doing that, and bring it back to the present moment with mindfulness.
- When you wake up in the morning, don’t immediately reach for your phone or computer, or just jump out of bed. Take a few moments to check in with yourself, and be grateful that you’re alive. If your mind starts to race, take a few deep breaths in and out and tell yourself positive affirmations like: “I accept the present moment of my life,” or “I will get through this moment of my life,” or “There is no more meaningful moment than this one,” etc.
- If you’re in bed with a partner or your significant other, connect with them fully. Don’t just half speak with them, or half interact physically, but instead take a few moments or as many moments necessary to appreciate them being in your life. This will begin your day with an open heart.
- When you start your day with your morning ritual like taking a shower, putting on make-‐up, shaving, getting dressed, etc. be present in everything you’re doing. Don’t rush through it if you can, and view it as an opportunity to start your day with total awareness.
- If you’re having breakfast, or drinking a cup of tea or coffee, allow yourself to be present with it, which means fully tasting it, and appreciating the flavors of the food, or the warmth and taste of the tea or coffee in your mouth. You will find yourself enjoying the flavors and taste of it more. Again, try not to rush.
- If you’re walking your dog, try not to text or use your phone at the same time. Be really present with what you’re doing so you can enjoy the walk as much as your dog.
- If you’re driving to work or taking your child to school, try not to rush in traffic. Be aware of how you feel getting to where you need to go, and try not to react to it. If you can, let someone go in front of you. That’s a wonderful gesture of mindfulness.
- If you work, try and stay as present in each moment that you’re there. If you’re talking to your boss or co-‐workers, and find your mind going out of the moment that you’re in, or half listening to them, try to go into observer mode, and tell yourself that you choose to stay in the present moment instead of being somewhere else.
- If you’re driving home from work, try and have the same unrushed mindfulness you had when you drove to work in the morning. Putting on soothing music can make the end of day drive more calming.
- If you’re cooking dinner, try and focus on preparing your food mindfully. Don’t just rush through it, if you can. A meal made with care and love tastes better!
- If you’re having dinner with your partner, husband, wife or children, try and stay as present as you can when you talk with them. Really listen to what they’re saying, and try and hear it with an open heart and non-‐judgment. Again, be the observer. Also, take the time to taste your food fully as you have your dinner, and appreciate the meal you made, or if you didn’t cook it, that someone else made.
- If you take a shower or bath before you go to bed, allow yourself to feel the warmth of the water on your body. Visualize it washing the day off of you, and let any burdens you feel you’re carrying go down the drain.
- When you get into bed, feel the sheets against your body. Take a few moments to focus on your breath, and surrender to the comfort of your bed. Feel gratitude for being alive another day, and for the person who might be lying next to you.
Mindfulness enriches each moment that we’re in, and if we don’t allow for it, we’re robbing ourselves of a better quality of life, and why would we want to do that? Each waking moment that we’re in is precious and a gift, and if you want to feel as fully alive as you possibly can, don’t be so quick to switch out the present moment for another one because once that moment is gone, you cannot recapture it. Next time you’re doing something like gazing at a rose or a sunset, or doing anything that gives you pleasure, give yourself the opportunity to experience its magnificence by being fully present with it. Your senses will thank you!