Mindfulness is a buzz word at the moment, but what does it mean and is it something new? You may have encountered mindfulness in your yoga class. Read on to find out more…
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What Is Mindfulness?
Being mindful is about being aware of the present. It’s about connecting with what’s happening around you, your senses and your body.
We spend so much time worry about the details of life and being anxious about the future. Worrying about things that might never happen and losing a sense of perspective on life.
Mindfulness helps you connect with your surroundings, other people’s feelings, your thoughts and your actions. It’s about becoming self-aware.
Is Mindfulness Something New?
Mindfulness is a form of meditation, something which has been around for centuries. It’s simply awareness. You can be mindful in any situation.
Mindfulness reminds me of the poem “Leisure” written by Welsh poet W. H. Davis in 1911:
What is this life if, full of care, We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass, Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight, Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty’s glance, And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this if, full of care, We have no time to stand and stare.
It’s a poem I was made to learn off by heart and recite growing up in a school in Wales. At the time I used to laugh about it’s cloying content. I was young and far to busy to stand around watching nature.
Yet now I can realise how much of life we take for granted. We assume there will always be another wonderful sunrise to watch. That we can watch the squirrels another day as we power through our to-do lists.
Davis was warning that “the hectic pace of modern life has a detrimental effect on the human spirit”. He was truly ahead of his time, seeking out travel and adventure at a time when most of his compatriots worked long hours with little thought of self-reflection.
The origins of mindfulness are linked to the religions Hinduism and Buddism, to the practice of yoga and more recently to non-religious meditation. Yet this poem shows the principles of mindfulness have quite likely been present in most societies down the ages.
How To Practice Mindfulness
Most people who practice yoga will be introduced to mindfulness. However mindfulness can be part of your daily life.
A Beginner’s Guide To Mindfulness
Check in with your thoughts and become aware of your surroundings from time to time as you go about your day. Are your thoughts in the present, or are you too worried about day-to-day tasks or something that may or may not happen in the future.
Try to take in your surroundings, listen to the people who talk to you, notice your breathing and keep your mind on the here and now.
In the yoga studio, think about how you’re standing and be aware of your breathe. Try to empty your mind of thoughts that distract from your yoga practice.
Set aside some time each day to be in the present. Try sitting quietly in a favorite spot. Observe your thoughts rather than judging them and try to let them go. Emptying your mind and concentrating on your breathe.
As your mind wanders don’t judge yourself, just bring your mind back to the here an now.
Follow my beginner’s guide to mindfulness and hit the pause button during the day. Does practicing mindfulness help? I’d love to hear your opinion…