Bring an increased sense of peace, serenity and fulfilment to your life with our step-by-step guide on how to become more mindful
Words B-J Raben
This is the first of a series of monthly articles on how to become more mindful. You will learn how to gradually integrate mindfulness into your day, bringing an increased sense of peace, serenity and fulfilment to your life.
Mindfulness is about bringing your consciousness into the present moment. We tend to spend more time thinking about things that have already happened, or even worrying about things that may happen in the future, than we do being truly aware of the present moment. When we are in the present moment we are more likely to find true peace. This is because being present allows us to shut down the constant mental chatter. This results in us becoming calmer and less susceptible to stress.
I spent the best part of thirty years working in a fast-paced, deadline driven office environment. At the same time I was bringing up a family of three children and managing a household. In those days I never gave a single thought to being mindful. Yet today, with our busy lives and the addition of multiple streams of communication bombarding our thoughts day and night, we need to find ways to counteract this imbalance to avoid a meltdown. Leading a mindful life is a key tool in restoring balance and mental clarity to our lives. A good place to start is to take actions that we carry out every day and to start bringing your awareness into those actions.
START THE DAY WITH A SIMPLE GROUNDING EXERCISE
Our bodies contain a continuous flow of energy within which is vital to our mental, physical and spiritual health. To maintain optimal wellbeing this energy system needs to be in good health. Taking one minute to start your day off with a simple grounding exercise can make the world of difference. This process will bring your energy down to your feet enabling you to start your day well balanced. You’ll be able to handle whatever the day throws at you more effectively.
Get out of bed and stand up straight with your feet hip width apart. Really feel the ground beneath your feet. Inhale deeply through your nose bringing the air up from the depths of your belly whilst counting to six. Next, start to exhale very slowly and deeply through your mouth. As you do this imagine you are pushing your energy from your throat down through your lungs and deep into your belly. When you get to your belly, imagine roots from the centre of your belly growing down through the tops of each leg and on down to your feet.
As you reach your feet imagine these roots spreading through the soles of your feet and deep into the ground. Even if your exhalation has finished, continue to breathe normally. Keep pushing these roots deep down through the ground, through the upper layers of the earth’s crust and into deep into the centre of the earth. Down, down, down. At the very centre of the earth imagine a gleaming, giant crystal. Wrap these roots around this enormous crystal, three times. You will then be completely grounded and ready to continue your routine as normal. Repeat this exercise three times if you have time.
You can also repeat this exercise any time throughout the day. Try it sitting in a chair, waiting for a bus or a train or simply taking a minute out to stand and re-ground yourself. The more you do it the more you will start to recognise your energy moving back down from the top half of your body to your feet and the feeling of balance that this creates. The expression “I am spinning out of control” comes from having our energy stuck in the top halves of our body. Being balanced and grounded helps us to handle stress and the bustle of daily life more calmly. It also brings us into a mindful state while we are doing it.
MAKE HAND WASHING A MINDFUL EXERCISE
Washing our hands is something we do frequently throughout the day, usually with little thought to the process. Each time you wash your hands, bring your consciousness to what you are doing. Notice how the water feels running over your hands. Move your hands slowly and rhythmically as you apply the soap, round and round. Take your time. You can even include taking a few long deep breaths at the same time. This time make sure you are opening your lungs properly and not shallow breathing. As you rinse the soap from your hands really feel the water running over your skin.
Make this into a hypnotic, meditative moment. Imagine how heavenly this would feel like if you were not allowed to wash your hands for a few days, or a week or even a month. Be aware of the privilege of being able to turn on a tap and have hot or cold water running freely, whenever we choose. Feel grateful for this.
People think I am mad because I enjoy doing the washing up! The secret is, I approach the washing up in the same way as washing my hands and it is no longer a chore. Instead has become a therapeutic exercise which provides an opportunity to bring my consciousness back to the present moment.
Continue to practice these two simple exercises each day and you will be on the road to becoming more mindful.