Mindfulness is such a powerful tool we all have access to free of charge. But many of us don’t practise mindfulness in our every day life, as we don’t completely understand what it means or how to achieve it. Stay tuned cos’ I’m going to debunk it for you!
- To be in the present moment. To fully engage and experience the current moment. Not worry about the previous moment or future moment.
- To observe your thoughts. Not judge or change them, but just observe them. Then bring your awareness back to the present moment rather than letting your mind run rampant.
- To absorb what your senses are taking in. To listen, watch, smell, taste and touch with your whole being.
- To listen to your body. To take the time to slow down and tap into what your body and intuition are telling you.
- To be aware of your own behaviour and actions.
- To be aware of others.
- To create space between the situation and yourself to reduce emotional reactivity.
- To create perspective, so you see the bigger picture rather than focussing in on minor details.
How can mindfulness change you?
1. Improve your relationship with yourself.
When you slow down and learn the art of mindfulness or meditation, you will begin to accept yourself more and more. Often we believe the ego, that negative voice in our mind, telling us that we are not enough. As you become more mindful, you are able to recognise the ego for what it is and not buy into it.
Improving our relationship with ourself is something we all have the ability to do before we introduce new life into the world.
2. Improve your relationships with others.
How do you feel when your partner or friend listens to you intently versus looking around the room when you are speaking? The former will be true of you when you become more mindful and present with those around you. And we all know that the key to a thriving relationship is communication!
When you and your partner become parents, it adds a whole new dimension to your relationship. Challenging times call for respect, mindfulness and optimal communication.
3. Improve your relationship with your children.
When you give your child your undivided attention, magic happens. You can let go of who you think you should be, and just be, with them. You can soak up every bit of the interaction you have with them rather than thinking of all the chores on your to do list.
Try this…next time you are playing with your child, bring your awareness to the game, listen to your child and absorb the present moment. When your mind starts running through your to do list, don’t judge it, just acknowledge the thought and bring your focus back to playing with your little one.
4. Reduce stress, anxiety and overwhelm.
As you practise mindfulness, in particularly meditation, your mind begins to calm down. The million different thoughts and the ‘what if’ scenarios your mind creates, lessen over time. Like everything, mindfulness and meditation are not magic pills, but instead a way of life.
5. Reduce emotional reactivity.
As you become more mindful, your ability to create space between the situation and your reaction improves. For example, rather than snapping at your child for spilling their juice, you will be calm and mindful in your reaction. You will also be more aware of your role in the situation, and able to remove yourself when you notice your reactivity rising.
The positive psychological benefits of mindfulness have been proven, as shown in this study.
6. Enhance your intuition.
When our monkey mind is calmer and the negative self-talk subsides, it is easier for us to access our intuition and whether or not something feels right for us. When you are pregnant or a first time mother, your intuition is your saviour. Rather than being overwhelmed by all the advice and information you are given, you will be able to intuitively know what feels right for you and your baby.
7. Discover your passion and purpose.
When you dive deeper into yourself and tap into your core values, you can discover your true passions and purpose. As you continue to understand yourself better, your decisions become heart based rather than expectation based.
This is increasingly important when you become a mother, as you need to stay true to yourself, and not lose sight of your own passion and purpose in life, whatever they may be. Motherhood is not about losing your identity.
8. Increase your confidence, clarity and focus.
Your ability to naturally feel more confident in your skin, be clear on what you want and hone in on what’s important in life, will come in spades along side mindfulness. When life gets busy with little ones, it can be easy to juggle 15 balls in the air and feel like they are all going to drop at any moment. Mindfulness can help you to prioritise and focus on what tasks are aligned with your values. You can then role model this to your children.
9. Enhance your relationship with food.
As described in my last post “What Is Your Relationship With Food”, your relationship with food can dramatically improve as you become more mindful. When we are kinder to ourselves and make decisions based on nourishing our temple, our food choices change for the better. We can stop punishing ourselves, or obsessing over food, and instead view food as nourishment and fuel. Another powerful teaching to pass onto your children.
What can you do to be more mindful?
1. Focus on any given task.
The art of mindfulness during any given task is a difficult one to say the least! The aim is to focus on the task at hand, like washing the dishes or making a cup of tea, rather than let your mind wander off. This is a challenge for many, as the mind is used to being so busy, and it is easy to get agitated when thoughts arise. The key here is persistence, as practise only makes this easier.
One way we subconsciously distract ourself from the present moment these days is by picking up our phones and aimlessly scrolling through social media. Children pick up on our level of presence, so put your phone down and dedicate quality time to your little ones.
2. Be an observer.
Be an observer of your thoughts and feelings. Rather than allowing your mind to run away with a cascade of thoughts and make up a non-existence story, recognise this happening and bring yourself back to the present moment. The same goes for your feelings. Acknowledge the feeling inside you, feel it and the bodily sensations, and then let it move through you, rather than dwelling on it. This may seem impossible, I get it, but overtime, it does get easier.
3. Be without judgment.
When we observe ourself, it is easy to start judging our thoughts and feelings. Our ego has a field trip and the negative self-talk takes over. If we just let the thought or feeling be there without attachment or labelling it, we can let go of judgment. Again, this isn’t easy!
4. Ground yourself.
When our monkey mind distracts us from the present moment, we can use grounding techniques to help bring us back. Use your senses to do this – feel your feet on the ground, listen to your breathe in and out through your nose, or place your hand on your heart.
Regularly doing activities that ground you also helps, like going for a walk barefoot along the beach or lying down on the grass or watching the sunset. Notice when you involve your children in these activities, how their behaviour will likely improve.
Just like practising mindfulness, learning about it and understanding mindfulness is important too. When we understand the theory behind new concepts, and we immerse ourselves in self-development, the actual practise can make more sense and be more alluring to us.
Simple breathing exercises bring our focus to our breath and therefore promote mindfulness. There is an abundance of different breathing techniques out there; you just need to find one that works for you. Diaphragmatic breathing is one of them – click here to read more.
Meditation is the most powerful way to become more mindful! Through meditation, you can naturally (*key word!!) become more mindful, without effort – how good is that?! The more you meditate, the more mindful you become in your day-to-day life. And I know this for sure, as I have experienced it personally.
The problem is that, unfortunately, meditation is misunderstood by many. I commonly hear “I’m no good at it” or “I don’t have the time” but just like anything in life, these are just excuses. There is no such thing as being bad at meditation, and we can all make time for what we value.
There are several different types of meditation, so you need to find one that feels right for you. Personally, I do Vedic Meditation (or transcendental meditation) and I highly recommend it. If you are interested in learning, find a Vedic teacher in your area. Or you can start with an app like 1 Giant Mind.
The power of mindfulness and how much it can change your life is in your hands. If you practise mindfulness and understand it’s importance, then your world can change before your eyes. But only you can do this for yourself. Just remember, mindfulness is not a destination, it’s a journey.
So go forth and conquer my friend!