“You practice mindfulness, on the one hand, to be calm and peaceful. On the other hand, as you practice mindfulness and live a life of peace, you inspire hope for a future of peace.”

Thich Nhat Hanh

This week we are discussing mindfulness and for me this is an essential part of my self-care, and it really helps me to cope with the stressors of life.  Mindfulness is used in a range of pursuits; education, sports, performance and also mental health and wellbeing.

Mindfulness is both a formal and informal process or practice.  You can make a formal time to practice a mindfulness exercise or meditation, such as a guided imagery from a reputable site such as https://insighttimer.com/ or you can do a normal daily task in a mindful manner – such as washing the dishes.  With this you notice all aspects of the event, notice the bubbles and the dish, smell the scent of the dish drops, concentrating on the dish cloth making contact with the dish and so on.

I recall one of my friends stating that she always did mindfulness wrong and found her mind wandering when she attempted any mindfulness exercise.  This led me to explain that our mind has many thoughts a day (approx. 60,000) and being mindful is noticing that your mind has taken you in a different direction and returning your mind to the exercise.  Our mind wanders all the time and practising this will assist when life turns a little (or a lot) south.

Studies have shown that practicing mindfulness for 30 minutes a day really improves our mental health and wellbeing.  I often speak to my clients and advise that you don’t need to do this in one hit, you can break it down to 3 lots of 10 minutes or multiple times – as long as you are completing 30 minutes in the day.

If life is getting a little stressful, I often bring my attention to my five senses and look for 5 things I can see, touch, smell, taste or feel.  Another quick exercise is noticing your breath and then intentionally breath in for the count of four, hold for two and breath out for the count of 4.  Try this a few times and see if it helps you.

I have found a selection of books that promote mindfulness, and many are inexpensive and helpful.  There are also apps and websites that are beneficial.  Many therapies also have a component of mindfulness due to the benefits that this skill provides. My advice is to give it a go and as there are many forms of this practice, keep trying until you find a selection that not only work for you, but you enjoy doing.