We are talking about Mind full ness, which is normally called ‘Mindfulness’. This is a tool, which is thousands of years old and something I practice regularly as a meditation technique. I also use Mindfulness based approaches in my work with clients in London.
A straightforward definition of Mind full ness:
According to Professor Mark Williams, former director of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre, Mindfulness is a translation of a word that simply means ‘awareness’. By noticing our thoughts, we become aware of them and ourselves. By becoming aware we can change the way we ‘do’ things. By changing the way we ‘do’ things, we can ‘be’ different.
Buddhist techniques of mind full ness (mindfulness) can be of enormous benefit to our health, relationships and peace of mind. I like the idea that by simply being more present with ourselves we can be more ‘full’ and therefore have a state of being more content. We live in an increasingly disconnected and stressed-out time and Mindfulness allows us to ease the speed and anxiety of modern life by altering our mind habits. By realising that your thoughts create your life, then by practising mindfulness on a daily basis, that increased conscious awareness of thoughts, words and actions, brings more joy and inner peace.
There is growing evidence that a well rounded education should now include an understanding of mindfulness and what is known as the inner life. Teaching mindfulness to young people can give them advanced training in the art of living.
Five Mindfulness ( Mind full ness) activities for your day
The idea of mindfulness is to be present and aware of your surroundings. So, whichever mindfulness activity you choose, keep that idea in mind. What you may notice is that we often use mundane, everyday tasks for mindfulness activities. Let mention a few ideas to help you have a more ‘mindful’ day!
One: Mindful Eating Exercise
Mindful eating is a simple introduction to mindfulness and developing that all important sense of heightened calm attention. Studies have shown that mindful eating may also be an effective way to reduce food cravings, which can be both bad for our health and stressful. This short mindful eating activity should take around five to ten minutes to complete and engages all of your senses. All you will need is a raisin or blueberry and a quiet place to focus.
It’s totally okay that some parts of this exercise might feel silly, but embrace the activity with a child-like curiosity.
- Hold the blueberry between your finger and thumb. Imagine that you’ve never seen a blueberry before and give it your full attention. Focus on its shape, colour and texture.
- Start moving the blueberry between your fingers. Squeeze it a little and see how squishy it is (or isn’t). Maybe close your eyes to help you focus.
- Now, hold the blueberry under your nose and take a sniff. What does it smell like?
- Pop the blueberry in your mouth. Don’t chew – hold it in your mouth for at least 10 seconds. Explore it with your tongue. Notice the texture and temperature. What does it feel like to wait before chewing?
- When you’re ready, start chewing. Take one or two bites and give the taste your full attention. Take your time and don’t swallow. Notice the taste and texture of the blueberry in your mouth and how it changes over time. Now swallow, noticing the physical sensation. How do you feel now? And what would your life be like all of your meals were more like this?
You may think this is a ridiculous amount of attention to give a piece of fruit. Do you feel a little silly? Is your mind wandering? Acknowledge your feelings, but don’t get distracted.
Two: Mindful Breathing
Mind full ness – mindfulness via mindful breathing is another simple exercise anyone can practice. This breathing exercise might feel like meditation, and it is in a sense, but instead of letting go, we’re increasing our awareness.
- Find somewhere quiet to sit and focus for five to ten minutes. You can sit or lie down for this mindful breathing exercise.
- Place one hand on your waistband and the other on your chest bone. This hand will help you to notice how deep or shallow your breathing is.
- Open your mouth and gently breathe out. Let your shoulders and upper body relax. Pause for a few seconds.
- With your mouth closed, breathe in slowly through your nose, making your belly expand once you’ve inhaled as much as you comfortably can, pause again.
- Breathe out through your mouth and notice your belly drawing in. Pause again.
- Repeat steps 2 – 4 for the rest of your available time. Take time to notice how you feel, how your body changes and reacts to each inhalation and exhalation.
- The mind will invariably start to wander throughout this breathing exercise; this is normal. When you notice the mind has wandered, bring the attention back to your breathing, body movement, and sensations and emotions you are feeling.
Once you’ve practised this a few times, consider experimenting. Try other positions (sitting or standing). Imagine that your breath has different colours. For example, blue for the cool air you’re breathing in and red for the warm air you’re breathing out.
Three: Mindful Stress Ball Exercise
Touch is another tense intuitive sense controlled by our subconscious that we often take for granted.
For this exercise, you will need an aromatherapy stress ball to engage your sense of touch and smell.
- Find a quiet place to sit or lie down where you won’t be disturbed. Throughout this exercise, be intentionally slow and curious.
- Hold the stress ball, close your eyes and begin by focusing on your breath until you feel calm and relaxed.
- Now bring your attention to the ball in your hand, but keep awareness on your breath. Without squeezing, feel the texture of the ball. What does it feel like in your palm? Is it heavy? How does it fit in the palm?
- Now gently squeeze the stress ball. Notice how the shape changes in your palm. Continue to press and release while still maintaining an awareness of your breath.
- Remember to be slow and curious. There is no rush.
- Notice how your arm and body changes as you work the stress ball in your palm. How is the ball’s shape different each time? Do you begin to notice the aroma released from the ball? What feeling or emotion does that smell evoke?
This mindful stress ball exercise can be incredibly soothing and could even be used as a way to unwind before bed.
Four: Mindful Creativity
Creativity is an excellent mindfulness activity for adults. As we get older, we spend little or no time on creative projects. Creativity is a perfect opportunity to practice being present and mindful. The sense of achievement one gets can have wonderful effects on our mental wellbeing and develop positive self-love.
For this exercise, we’ll let you choose the activity. Some examples might be painting, woodwork, writing, arranging flowers, photography, whatever.
The goal of mindful creativity is to be present, so no smartphones, ipads, TV, radio, or other distractions. If you want to listen to music, make sure there won’t be any ads or news broadcasts. The goal is to be focused on your creative activity without any outside influence.
Again, you want to approach mindful creativity with curiosity. For a holistic experience, you might want to journal about your activity afterwards.
- What feelings or emotions did you feel while creating?
- What sensations did you experience (touch, smell, etc.)?
- What did you find challenging, and why?
- What did you love about the experience?
Five: Mindful Exploring
We often think of mindfulness as sitting quietly alone, but mindfulness activities aren’t confined in this way. Here is a quick video about being mindful while outside on a walk or simply sitting in your garden.
What you will notice throughout these mind full ness activities is a focus on being present and aware. Approaching mindfulness activities with a child-like curiosity will help facilitate that sense of awareness.
If you are interested in discovering how Mind Full Ness and Mindfulness can help improve your life get in touch to talk more about this.