Life can go too fast. It’s easy to rush from one thing to the next and forget to stop and take life in as it happens. Learning to ground ourselves in the present can protect us from getting carried away with what’s coming next and bring more awareness and joy to the now.
Mindfulness is the practice of present moment awareness. It teaches us to pay attention to what’s going on around us and within us. Recent studies have shown that practising mindfulness can improve stress regulation, enhance the immune system, boost concentration and strengthen our relationships. Research also shows it can helpful for people dealing with insomnia, anxiety and depression.
Ready to give it a try? All you need is 5 minutes.
If you have a cold breathing through the mouth is fine.
Your mind will probably wander away form the breath lots of times. When you notice this happening gently bring your focus back to the breath.
If you find it hard – that’s ok! Try not to get frustrated or feel like you’re no good at it. Getting distracted is what our minds do best. What’s more, we live in a culture that constantly interrupts our attention so our brains aren’t the best at focusing. With practice it should get a little easier: just like a muscle, our minds get stronger with training.
5 minutes is a great place to start, but if it feels right you could increase your practice gradually. You could try 10 mins, 20 mins, or as long as feels good. Start with the same steps (1-6) and then just stay longer on step 7, bringing the mind back every time it skips off.
These days I tend to do a 10-20 minute version of this practice first thing in the morning and use a 5 minute practice whenever I need a break or I’m feeling stressed out.
Getting going with mindfulness can be difficult. This practice is just one way to get started. You could also try mindful eating, mindful walking or being more mindful in your yoga!
Guided practices can be helpful if you find it difficult to practise on your own. This is one of my favourite mindfulness books. It’s an 8 week beginners’ program that comes with short, guided sessions. Don’t feel like you have to follow the program rigidly. Fit what you can around your schedule and don’t give up just because you can’t do all the recommended sessions. The body scan recording is amazing.
Another great way to get started is the Headspace app. The free version has 10 day’s of 10 minute sessions. The founder and voice of the app is Andy Puddicombe, a former Buddhist monk with a super soothing voice.
Giving mindfulness a go? Let me know how you’re getting on in the comments section below and feel free to recommend any other good books/ guided recordings you’ve come across.