Do you want to incorporate more balance, peace and happiness into your life? If the answer is yes, have you ever thought about looking into the practice of mindfulness. It’s certainly a topic worth exploring and we have a mindfulness expert living amongst us in the Hunter region, Charlotte Thaaruup.
Charlotte defines mindfulness as a conscious decision to pay attention. She believes that it can be anything from a simple tool to calm your mind and body down through to a way of experiencing more focus and clarity. And as a world-renowned, clinical mindfulness consultant and transformative educator, she certainly knows a thing or two about this topic. Commencing her business, ‘The Mindfulness Clinic’, in 2008, Charlotte runs retreats, group training, private coaching and online programs. Which all sounds very lovely and peaceful, but exactly how do we go about being more mindful in our day to day lives?
The website psychcentral.com has the following tips:
- Practice mindfulness during routine activities. You know those tasks that you do on autopilot each day, why not try to bring a bit more awareness to them. For example, brushing your hair, eating your breakfast or cleaning your teeth are all routine activities, but try focussing in on these activities more, noticing the sound, smell, taste and feel – you might find they are more interesting than you think!
- Practice as soon as you wake up. It is well documented that establishing a positive morning routine can have a massive impact on the rest of your day. So why not incorporate some of your mindfulness practices into your morning routine. It can help to set the ‘tone’ for the rest of the day and increase the likelihood of other mindful moments occurring.
- Let your mind wander. Our thoughts and brains are natural wanderers – and this is a good thing – as it is an asset to have a busy brain. What mindfulness can help with though is the practice of noticing that your mind has wandered, and then gently, lovingly and most importantly, non-judgementally bring it back to what you want to focus on. It takes practice but stick with it!
- Keep it short. It can be very challenging to start your mindfulness journey with lengthy sessions. It is much easier to start with short bursts peppered several times throughout your day. While 20-30 minutes might sound optimal, it is okay to start with a few minutes at a time. For instance, cleaning is an excellent everyday activity you can combine with your mindfulness practice. While you are vacuuming, try zoning in on the movement of your arms as you push the vacuum, focussing on the back and forth physical motions.
- Practice mindfulness while you wait. Our lives are becoming increasingly fast-paced with multi-tasking the norm! This can result in some major frustration when we are forced to wait – be that stuck in a queue or in traffic. Next time this happens to you, instead of becoming exasperated, use the time as an opportunity to practice mindfulness. For instance, if you are standing in line, take a few moments to zone in on the feeling of your feet touching the ground. Focus on your breath while you are doing this and try to let go of the feelings of irritation and impatience.
- Pick a prompt to remind you to be mindful. Pick a day to day task that you can use as a cue to bump your brain into mindful mode. It might be your morning tea or coffee, your morning shower or your drive to work. As long as you choose something that you do regularly that will serve as a reminder.
- Learn to meditate. One of the best and easiest ways to cultivate mindfulness into your everyday life is to learn how to meditate. Some compare this to learning a new language. You can’t just burst into fluent French – you need to learn the language and mindfulness is the same. Meditation is the language of mindfulness. There are some great apps to help you do this, including Headspace, Calm and Insight Timer.
With the many benefits of mindfulness including everything from improved sleep, to lower stress levels to assisting with managing chronic pain and helping to banish negative feelings, it is well worth the effort to combine this ancient practice into your life.
As Charlotte says on her website, ‘changing the way you live using mindfulness impacts positively on all facets of your life’.