Mind Full vs Mindful
Everyone is telling you to start practicing Mindfulness. But, what is it?
To put it simply, it is the practice of living in the here and now. It is finding techniques to use daily to help get your thoughts away from the worries, struggles, and stress of every day life and on to the peace of what is happening at this exact moment. In my opinion it is a realistic way to be able to center yourself throughout the hectic day that we seem to live in this day and age.
Practicing Mindfulness can take many forms. Some are able to find time to meditate every day for 45 minutes or go to yoga class. Others can only find time to do quick 1-3 minute breathing and grounding techniques. I find myself and most of my clients somewhere in the middle where a lot of days we can only do the minimum, but always strive to add a little more time for Mindfulness each day.
As much as I'd love to be a complete Mindfulness guru from the get go, it doesn't usually work out that way. Most people don't realize just how much work it takes to actively practice things such as meditation every day. While an effect of something like meditation and yoga is relaxation, there is an incredible amount of willpower, self control, and plain old hard work behind it. Most of us just don't have the time or energy to go full force in starting our Better Living practice. So to get you started I'm going to do a series of short posts introducing fairly quick and easy Mindfulness techniques. They can last as long or as little as you want them to, however I will put a minimum time on them so you are able to reap the rewards.
Side note: You get the best benefits of Mindfulness (and there are many) when you practice it daily. Making it a habit is the hardest part, but the results are priceless.
The Walk (5-20 Min)
To get you started on your journey to becoming a Mindfulness Guru, the first technique I'm going to show you is a Mindfulness Walk. With the weather finally turning a bit warmer and the sun starting to shine longer, take advantage of the chance to get some Vitamin D and get away from your desk. If you can find a park, wonderful! If you can only walk around the parking lot of you building, that works to! The where doesn't matter as much as your choice to take action!
Out of your hectic, I'm about to go crazy busy, day set aside 5-10 minutes to go on a walk. I know we are all busy, but if you can't spare FIVE minutes for yourself then we need to start having a different conversation about priorities and values.
Go outside and choose to do one of the below. Remember - the point of this walk is to bring your mind to the here and now. To get out of your own thoughts about future stress or pain from the past. To focus on the many things your missing around you and give your mind a break!
- LOOK and identify everything that you see.
- LISTEN and identify everything that you hear.
- INHALE and identify everything you smell.
- CONCENTRATE and identify everything you can feel.
A few qualifiers before I set you loose to become Mindfulness Power Walkers. When I instruct to "identify" some people find it helpful to say them out loud and give more details such as saying "A blue bird flying to a higher branch" or "Sound of a dog barking in the distance". If you worried saying it out loud people will think you have issues, just say it emphatically in your mind. The other thing I wanted to mention is with the last choice, Feel. This can mean 2 things either literally things you can feel like the wind on your face or it can mean emotions. How are you feeling today? As you progress in your walk does that feeling of stress change to something else? Where in your body do you feel that emotion?
This walk is a great thing to do by yourself and it can be an amazing thing to do with your partner, kids, or as a family!
What a way to start teaching kiddos at a young age to start living authentically!