How To Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness... 

A mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.

Photo by Joe Lee Foto, post originally written for Thistle. 

Photo by Joe Lee Foto, post originally written for Thistle

We live in a super fast paced modern world due to technologies continuous advancements, which has allowed us to be “switched on” round the clock in so many different ways. Not only do we have daily work pressure to perform, make money and “succeed”, we also have other demanding responsibilities and commitments like family life, social activities, and looking after ourselves as well as others. All this can get extremely overwhelming; leaving us chronically stressed out and eventually burnt out. 

Mindfulness has been an important part of many cultures over thousands of years, take Buddhism in India for example. However, more than ever we need to cultivate our own mindfulness practice to center and ground ourselves when life seems out of control and utterly unmanageable. I personally feel we need to educate our kids about self-awareness and self-care. We teach them math, history, English and science at school, which has its purpose in life for sure, but for some reason we don’t have a class called “life skills”, which would actually be much more useful to the general population. I know I had to figure things out on my own, the hard way, when a lot of suffering could have been addressed in more simple yet sustainable ways. 

It’s never too late to dive deeper into ourselves and start practicing mindfulness in its various and rather endless forms. The key is to try different things to discover what works best for you. For me, time in nature is the ultimate experience, which allows me to really connect with my authentic self and get a greater perspective on life. For others sitting cross-legged meditating, chanting, journaling, thinking of things to be grateful for, or doing yoga is helpful. Even quiet time where you stop everything you are doing and “switch off” to relax is a lovely form of mindfulness. 

The key is to pick something that feels good to you and commit to doing it daily, even for 5 minutes to start off with. Consistency is key, so it can help to carve out a specific time of the day when you have the availability, or would reap the most benefits from your chosen mindfulness practice. I promise you, your connection to yourself, others and the world at large will become richer and more meaningful.

3 SIMPLE MINDFULNESS TACTICS TO GET YOU STARTED: 

Meditation – simply sit comfortably in a space with positive energy, crossing your legs and elevating your bottom on a firm cushion to support and elongate your spine. Close your eyes and begin to breathe deeply, inhaling in and exhaling out slowly. Repeating this simple act calms your nervous system, allows your mind to focus solely on your breath, keeping you fully aware in the present moment, and rebalances your entire body. 

Yoga – Yoga is basically a moving meditation that quiets the mind, allows you to de-stress, connect on a deeper level with your body, and focus on the breath. Having a yoga practice allows you to be the best version of yourself, and to share that mindfulness with others in your day-to-day life. 

Gratitude journal – It’s really nice to start and end the day on a positive, feel good and uplifting note. By writing down 3 things you are grateful for every morning when you wake up to set the tone for the day, and / or every evening before you go to bed, you realize how blessed and abundant your life is.

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