Wondering whether mindfulness is something that could help improve your wellbeing? Discover what it’s all about with our simple 10-step guide…
1. How do I practice mindfulness?
We’re all different and there are infinite ways to ‘do’ mindfulness, so however you do it is up to you.
You might also prefer different approaches on different days, depending on the kind of mood you’re in. As long as it feels right for you, that’s all that matters.
You can do it by yourself, with someone else (such as a friend or a
loved one) or with your whole family. It’s brilliantly versatile.
2. Learning to slow down
What is mindfulness? It’s slowing down and taking a step back (either physically, mentally or emotionally) from the busy blur of life.
If you like, you can continue with what you’re doing but more slowly and purposefully.
If you prefer, you can stop completely – a still body often helps to quieten the mind.
There are many other ways to slow down, including deep breathing, stroking a pet, yoga, reading, walking, listening to music, colouring-in, cooking, considering a short saying or quote, looking up, running, having or giving a massage, and much more.
3. Calming your thoughts
The act of slowing down or stopping often helps you to feel more relaxed and peaceful.
You can just enjoy that feeling for as long as you need to. Just enjoy being with a few moments of meditation, whether that’s five minutes or an hour. You could give our guided visualisation meditation a try.
Allow thoughts to run through your mind like observing clouds move across the sky from a distance – notice them, accept them, be curious about them and then let them float away without judgement.
4. How to be present
Just focus on ‘now’. Try to let go of the past and stop worrying about the future by asking yourself: what are you aware of right in this moment?
Being able to focus your awareness on the now takes practise, so try putting aside five minutes every day. In those five minutes, be in the present – whether that’s just enjoying feeling your body relaxed, or focusing on the colours you can see around you.
Let the ‘now’ fill your thoughts, to the exclusion of anything else. If your mind wanders, just notice that and gently bring it back.
5. Start noticing
By slowing down or stopping, you’ll give yourself extra space and time to notice things that you might otherwise have missed, about yourself or other people.
These could be thoughts, feelings, physical sensations or inputs from the world around you. This increased awareness is the first step to finding a new understanding.
6. Heightening your senses
If you’re wondering, ‘what is mindfulness’, pause and pay attention to both your senses and environment.
You might discover new smells, tastes, sounds, colours, textures and feelings. Noticing these sensory pleasures can help to jolt you out of life’s autopilot-mode.
7. Find a new perspective
By slowing down and becoming more conscious, you can try doing things differently – this can help you to see the world in a new way.
You might find a fresh perspective on yourself and other people. This new angle might lead to important realisations about yourself, other people, or your relationships.
Don’t get too attached to your thoughts though: consider these realisations in a neutral way. This involves being curious rather than judgemental.
8. Listen to yourself
Silencing some of the background noise of day-to-day life can help you tune in to your inner voice, which is often ignored.
So start to take the time to listen. What does it need? What is it trying to tell you? Try letting it out with a creative activity such as art, writing, making, cooking, photography or whatever you enjoy. Expressing yourself in this way can lead to important realisations.
9. Beyond you
Practising mindfulness is also about becoming aware of the world beyond yourself.
How do you fit into the wider picture? You are a wonderful part of a complex world of human interactions. Take a step outside yourself and consider how you affect other people.
How have other people affected you? Be grateful for the positive effects and let go of any guilt. Consider how you might be able to improve the wellbeing of others – some people find that doing mindfulness with someone else can help to strengthen that relationship.
10. Making a positive change
Use your mindful time to make positive changes – not just for yourself but for other people.
While you’re relaxed, give yourself positive affirmations to improve your self-confidence or offer reassurance for your worries.
You could also use your imagination to resolve problems or visualise improvements that you would like to make in the near future.
This article first appeared in issue 13 of Planet Mindful magazine. Join our community and make a pact to prioritise your self care – try an issue here for just 99p!