• By Amanda Blackburn.

How To Be Mindful.

Mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment, through a gentle, nurturing lens.

Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way, noticing thoughts, physical sensations, sights, sounds, smells- anything we might not normally notice. When we practice mindfulness, our thoughts tune into what we're sensing in the present moment.

Most of us are not present in the moment and are often miles away. In a car, we can sometimes drive for miles on “automatic pilot”, without really being aware of what we are doing. By becoming more aware of our thoughts, feelings, and body sensations, from moment to moment, we give ourselves the possibility of new feelings and choice. The normal mental ruts that have caused problems in the past fade away from your thoughts when you are mindful of the wonderful world around you.

Being mindful helps us to train our attention. Our minds wander about 50% of the time. When you are mindful you exercise your attention muscle, the more your are mindful the stronger this muscle gets, making you stronger too. When your attention muscle is strong you will be able to take more control over your focus and choose what you want to focus on. This will stop your attention being dominated by things that cause distraction and distress.

When mindfulness is practised regularly we can learn to be more mindful of our thoughts and feelings, to become observers and then more accepting of them. As your ability to be mindful improves, stressful feelings, thoughts and negative experiences can be viewed from a wider perspective as passing events in the mind.

By being mindful to the actual experience as an observer, using mindful breathing and focusing our attention on the breathing, listening to the distressing thoughts mindfully, recognising them as merely thoughts, breathing with them, allowing them to happen without believing them or arguing with them. If thoughts are too strong or loud, we can move our attention to our breath, to our body, or sounds and smells around us.

I have been practicing mindfulness daily for the last 3 months. It’s been helping me feel happy, focused and in control of my life.

My daily mindful practice.

I practice yoga every morning for at least half an hour. I practice at home using YouTube. My favourite yoga instructor on tube is Adriene, Her yoga classes helped me discover mindfulness, along with many other benefits that I am gaining from my regular practice. Go check her channel out, give her classes a try, start gentle, 10 minutes daily is a start. Adriene has classes from beginner to advanced, classes vary in time so you can choose the time that suits you.

I practice early in the morning when everyone is still in bed. The house is lovely and quiet and it makes my yoga more enjoyable. It’s not always easy getting up super early but it’s so worth it in the end. Find a time that suits you, I’m definitely a morning person and couldn’t practice yoga in the evening. It doesn’t

matter what time of day you practice yoga, it’s what feels right for you. If your not sure, practice during different times of the day/evening see what feels right.

I never thought I’d be able to motivate myself to practice so regularly. I will soon be 45, I work full time, I’ve always got so much to do, like every one else nowadays. I needed to change, I wasn’t feeling happy. I changed my mental health state with diet and exercise and also by practicing yoga and mindfulness.

I take a mindful walk daily, this is usually when I walk my dog. Walking is something that most of us do every day, however a mindful walk is something that most of us adults no longer do. When we were children we had mindful walks, as adults we usually forget how.

How to walk mindfully!

When you walk rather than be “in your head” look around, notice what you see, hear, smell and sense. Notice the sensations in your body with the act of walking, feel your feet firmly on the earth, feel the air between your fingers, smell the air, feel your body move with each step you take. Notice your breathing. Thoughts will continuously intrude, just notice the thoughts and then bring your attention back to your walking and the sensations it brings.

Once you understand what being mindful is you can invite it into your life. It’s not hard to do, anyone can do it. You can be mindful in the bath or when simply washing the dishes. Notice the temperature of the water and how it feels on your skin, listen carefully to the sounds of the bubbles, feel the bubbles on your skin, breath in the warm scent. By noticing what we might not normally notice we can take our minds away from thinking about what we have to do or have already done earlier that day.

Mindfulness has taught me to look at things more calmly in a non-judgmental way, I allow thoughts to come and go without getting to caught up in them. This creates calmness and acceptance. Practicing meditation and breathing also helps you to strengthen your attention muscle.

Learn to become more mindful it will help you too.


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