If you look up the word 'mindful' in the dictionary it means to be aware of something, to focus on the present moment, to be more aware and engaged in whatever is happening at that moment with acceptance and according to The Cambridge Dictionary, Mindfulness can be defined as the practice of just being aware of your body, mind and feelings in the present moment thought to create a feeling of calm.
In this busy world we live in we barely have time to stop and just be still in the present moment. Cast your mind back to a recent or past holiday and occasions when you visited somewhere new, most people say after a few days they begin to relax, Its certainly true for me. We begin to slow down, to let go of thoughts about work and home life and our eyes and hear and mind begin to open up to what is around us, we are captured by a sea view, or an old building in an old Town or a new taste in a restaurant. One example for me is when I am on the beach in Spain and at around 3 or 4pm local families come onto the beach, grandparents, parents, older siblings, they are all there and I love to watch them I am completely captured in the moment. Our mind and body are truly in that moment experiencing, seeing, noticing, feeling exactly what is happening right there.
However, most of the time we are planning for the future, thinking about the past or what we are about to do next. The mind is constantly thinking, planning ahead, thinking back to the past, reminding us of things that have cropped up during the day or the week or in the past that have been difficult. The mind's job is to seek out danger and so anything that is negative past or present the mind perceives as a threat and focuses on it. Have you noticed how we never seem to notice when things are going well in our lives?
What is mindful meditation?
To turn the mind inwards and concentrate on the breath. The practice is not about forcing yourself to feel or get to a particular state of mind or being but to become more aware of the breath, to become more aware of your thoughts and feelings and experiences without judging or overreacting. In the same way you train your body at during an exercise session, you train the mind.
Slowing down over active minds.
It helps to slow down the mind and stop it racing ahead or spiralling out of control into overthinking and exaggerating. Rather than reacting to a thought you can notice that the thought its just that, a thought, and may not be helpful at this time if at all. Mindful meditation gives you time and space to observe the thought, and see it as if a friend was talking and not become involved and absorbed in it. Or to think of the thought as a visitor, some stay for a while, some are just quickly passing through. We get to choose what we want to feed into our minds and what we are happy to listen to, much like chatting to a friend or partner. If your friend came to visit and began shouting and being abusive or being very negative about the things you were doing or something you had done in the past or hadn't done, you would be unlikely to listen. You would walk away or tell the friend to leave. We cannot force the thought away but we can learn not to listen or pay it attention but just allow it to be there without getting drawn into a conversation.
A Calmer Mind
When we are faced with painful feelings or faced with difficult situations our response is often resistance in not wanting to face it and with a sense of dread and a heavy heart and a dark cloud can appear over us. What if it didn't need to be this way? If we could take a step back and accept these feelings and situations just as they are, as part of life's ups and downs without becoming involved and drawn into the drama that can unfold in our minds and in doing so we become calmer and a little less upset and more able to think more logically.
As technology advances it seems our privacy and our downtime is ever decreasing as we are much more easily reached, via email, text, social media, whatsapp, phone etc and we are expected to respond much more quickly and almost immediately. Before all of this when we were home our time was our own and people had to contact us by phone, we could make our telephone number private and give our telephone number out to select people.
With social media now playing a huge part in most peoples lives, people are living out their lives through the posts on the social media for example when on holiday, instead of just living in the moment and enjoying being in the moment, that moment is broken to take a picture and post it on social media and write about it. All of this adds stress to our lives as we have less and less time to just be and switch off. We also have the news in our lives 24/7 and at the moment life is very stressful as most people are struggling to manage their budget as they worry about paying the increased rise in energy bills, fuel, food and mortgage and rent It is more important than ever to take time out from the buzz buzz buzz of life and sit quietly with your thoughts as mediation is an excellent tool for as a way for us to step away from stress.
Try Yin Yoga
Yin Yoga is a wonderful way to do this, its well known for its meditative style and feel and its promotion of letting go and staying with the breath and body.
If you are new to meditation and would like to try some Yin Yoga I will be adding to my existing Yin Yoga classes and starting a new class on Tuesday evenings in January. This will help to ease you in slowly and give you guidance on meditation and help you to schedule it into your diary and have someone in person encouraging and guiding you in a space set up to make it easier to switch off away from distractions and help you to get into a routine. Alternatively I do one to one meditations. Either of these are on a personal level when a person is wanting to share a particular stress or difficulty they are going through and for me to help them go through this with the help of mediation or for some it is much more impersonal where some are just wanting to experience mediation in person with someone rather than from an app or online.