5 Reasons to practise Mindfulness and 5 ways to get you started

5 Reasons to practise Mindfulness

1.   A self-report study in 2006 showed that anxiety, depression and irritability all decrease with regular sessions of meditation

2.   Research at the University Medical Centre in the Netherlands showed that becoming more aware of our daily routines and acting less subconsciously was directly related to increases in positive mood and wellbeing

3.   Practising mindfulness allows you to up-skill your brain so that it can pay more attention in the moment, every day, without judging or criticising.

4.   Dr Amish Jha from the University of Miami demonstrated that practising mindfulness for just 12 minutes a day improves the ability to resist distraction

5.   Mindfulness encourages us to be in the present rather than the past or future. Past and future thinking can sometimes be helpful (for example, when it’s intentional e.g. planning your next career move) but it can also cause us a lot of torment. Ruminating over perceived failures or imagined future failings that probably won’t happen is not so helpful.

5 ways to bring Mindfulness into your everyday life

1.   Start with something you do every day such as making tea, brushing your hair or shaving and do it mindfully. This means trying to focus only on the activity you are doing. Pay attention to all the sensations you experience as you do it. The movement of your body, the smell of the shaving foam, the feeling of the brush through your hair.

2.   Go for a mindful walk. Instead of walking just to get somewhere, appreciate the journey. Slow down. Observe what’s around you as you walk. Switch on all your senses as you listen to the cars or the birds, look at the colours of the leaves on the trees and feel your feet on the pavement.

3.   Focus on breathing. This is also a great way to relax if you’re feeling anxious and only takes a few minutes. Draw your attention to your breath, there’s no need to try to control the breath in any certain way, just notice the natural rhythm. Pay attention to the in and out breath, if it helps counting 1 as you breath in and 2 as you breath out.

4.   Focus on one sensation. I like to do this sitting in the garden but it can be done anywhere. Pick a sense such as sound and focus only on what you hear. You’ll start to pick up all sorts of noises around you as you tune in to them.

5.   Eat mindfully. Rather than rushing through lunch while doing numerous other things, actually pay attention to what you’re eating! Take small mouthfuls, chew thoroughly and try to taste all the different flavours and textures in your meal.

Fiona Doran-Smith