I have a confession. Previous to June 2019 I was somewhat dismissive of the whole idea of mindfulness. I felt it a fad for people that enjoyed colouring-in. Not that I’m against such things, after all I am level 1 Reiki (not attuned of late, sadly) and to some that is quite an extreme form of “alternative”. So I had a word with myself and suggested I take my own advice of “don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it”.
An introduction to mindfulness
The perfect time to explore this was while attending WordCamp Europe 2019 in Berlin with the Big Orange Heart team. The Wellness Track included an introduction to mindfulness practice presented by the wonderful Raffaella Isidori. Between the interviews and (mostly) hallway track I anticipated an hour of calm with a few gentle people; it was time to put aside my blinkered thinking and discover this recent trend… And what an hour that was! An encouragingly full room with plenty of open-minded discussion and practical calm and mindfulness techniques. Turns out I’m already pretty mindful just did not realise it. Well, I know I am pretty calm – I’ve always put this down to my west-country roots – but had not understood just how practical and helpful this approach, a mindful approach to things can be.
My kind of mindful
For me a result of being mindful includes considering the other person whenever I can. For instance, if stuck in traffic, there’s nothing you can actually do about it, so stay calm and perhaps look around (while paying attention to the traffic, of course). Notice things of beauty or interest, or chat about something gentle or bring attention to something your passengers can perhaps also enjoy. It may be a dog in a car or being walked, or a pretty window, or someone singing in their car. This situation works really well with an attitude of kindness – smiling at someone (and if they think you’re odd for doing so, does that really matter?), or just catching someone’s eye in a similar situation as you (the school run springs to mind!). My mindfulness means I am calm, basically, in most situations.
For each of us the practice of mindfulness can be in simple tasks – washing up, baking, kneading bread, weeding, mowing; mindfulness can be found in all of these things and many more. Creative pursuits, perhaps – colouring, origami, painting (there are some amazingly good paint-by-numbers now), drawing – the act of focusing fully on one thing, be that creative or simply useful. Not thinking of the emails and all the stuff that has to be done – take time for focus on something apart.
Mindfulness can be whatever works for you, whatever you need it to be, for your own mental well-being.
Learn more and practice
The MIND website about mindfulness introducing you to courses and suggestions as well as some exercises. And then there are apps aplenty – The Independent reviewed a variety of mindfulness apps. It really is about taking a look and honing your search to fit your needs and preferences; I’m intrigued to try 10% Happier and will report back on this in the comments.
Your suggestions and experiences with mindfulness are most welcome – join in below 🙂