How to be Mindful

What you practice is what you become!

Are we agreed? If we try to learn any new skill we need to practise. What we repeatedly do, we get good at. Ok then, let’s look at some ways we can begin to practise mindfulness in our daily activities. It’s not just about meditating!

Many times, we go through our days on auto pilot, getting caught up in worries and fears and all the things we need to get done. We are there – somewhere in the past or future, but not actually aware of the present moment. This is called forgetfulness. Forgetfulness is the opposite of mindfulness. Mindfulness is the practice of choosing to be in the present moment, aware of how it looks, feels, sounds and to be accepting of those elements without judgment.

The aim of our practice is for it to be enjoyable, not onerous work or effort. As easy as this sounds it can be tricky! Our minds have a way of wandering and before we know it we are lost again; our thoughts meandering and, the judgments about them, flying around at the speed of light. As we begin our mindfulness learning, let’s keep it simple by using activities we are already extremely familiar with.

Breathing requires no effort, we just do it. It just happens. Simply stop what you are doing and become aware of your breathing. Breathing in, note the sensation of air and its passage into your body. Breathing out, notice how it flows back out. No effort. Bingo! For those moments of a breath cycle you have been successfully mindful. So now it’s just a matter of repetition. Just a minute or so can be a great way to start. If we find our mind wanders, we can be mindful of that and just gently bring our mind back to our breath. No judgment! No telling ourself that we are no good at this. We are learning to control our thoughts rather than letting them control us!

Once we are comfortable with a minute or so of mindful breathing, we can begin to expand the time we spend with our practice; enjoying the effortless beauty of breathing. Next, let us imagine we are with a group of people contemplating a beautiful sunset. Do we have to make an effort to enjoy the beautiful sunset? No, we don’t have to make any effort. We just enjoy it.
The same thing is true with our breath. We can simply allow our life-giving breath to happen. Become aware of it and enjoy it. Effortless. Enjoy.

The route of our onward journey is up to us. We can develop our practice in as many ways as there activities we engage in.

We are aiming, with our mindfulness, not for a specific time but for an improvement in the quality of our well-being. It is not a competition. It is a tool to help us embrace life calmly and with greater appreciation of its wonders. Whether that be feeling the warmth of the water in the shower, or its saltiness in the sea, is for us to decide. The options and benefits are endless. Let’s get practicing! Our mantra: what we practice we get good at. Wishing us all happy, mindful minutes and moments in the days ahead.