So what is mindfulness?

The word mindfulness means compassionate and awareness. A sense of knowing what is happening in the external and internal world as it is happening.

Most of us are more used to its opposite: mindlessness – times when we are not really conscious of what is going on, when we are most liable to make mistakes. Mindfulness means waking up and checking in to what’s happening so we can make wise choices.

In its more common usage in recent clinical literature, it has come to mean the awareness that emerges as a by-product of cultivating three related skills:

  • Intentionally paying attention to moment-by moment events as they unfold in the internal and external world.
  • Noticing and shifting change in overthinking.
  • Cultivating the ability to respond to events, and to reactions to them, with an attitude of open curiosity and compassion.

Mindfulness is traditionally cultivated by the practice of meditation in which people learn to pay attention in each moment with full intentionality and with friendly interest. Meditation is not about clearing the mind, but rather coming to see the mind’s patterns. Daily meditation practice allows people to see the way in which certain patterns of mind lead to escalation of emotions, despite our best efforts to control them. It also allows us to see more clearly what sorts of actions lead to more wholesome outcomes in everyday life. When people practice mindfulness meditation for any length of time, a number of qualities of their experience change. People say they feel more aware or awake, feel calmer and are more able to see clearly and gain freedom from their own emotional patterns and habits. They feel freer to be more compassionate to themselves and to others.

But what if you can’t get into the groove of meditation? 

The truth is, we often struggle to meditate longer than 5 minutes and that’s ok! There is no need to apply the pressure. In this article I would like to invite you to think of new ways you can meditate. Here are a couple of suggestions to try if meditation isn’t quite your thing:

Driving: Turn off your radio, and focus on driving. When you find yourself caught up in thinking, you have forgotten what you are doing, drop these thoughts and return to driving. While driving, it is easy to lose mindfulness and forget our driving, then remember it, then lose it, over and over. With mindfulness, we find ourselves paying attention to what we normally miss.

Mindful walking: Drop the thoughts you have and stay focused on the body as it walks. Feel the touch of foot on floor. Feel how your weight shifts from one side, to the other. Don’t hurry. Focus on the movement, rather than the destination.

Listening: Listening is also a wonderful way to practice mindfulness. Tuning out can hurt your relationships and erode your own inner wellbeing. Tuning in to others deepens trust and understanding. Listen as if it’s a meditation. It’s a great practice.

Journaling: Write your emotions down and include any triggers. What did you learn? Don’t get too caught up on checking spelling and grammar… Just let the words free flow onto the page. How does it feel? Focus on the freedom of writing onto the page and the sensations you feel. Explore your local area.

What else?

Nature: During lockdown 1.0 we found a number of lovely walks and hidden gems for dog walking. The National Trust is a perfect place to start your search for a nature day out. Make the most of your lunch break. One of the benefits of spending time outside is increased creativity and better concentration. Whether reading a book in your park/garden or heading out for a walk around the block, using your lunch break as an opportunity to spend time outside will get you back to work with more energy than before. When you are on your walk, take in your surroundings. What do you see? How do you feel? Who do you see?

Go to your local park, woods or even on your walk around the block – be present in that moment. Focus on what you see, stop to watch the bugs, birds and the bees.

  • Autumn, pick up the Chanel-yellow leaves.
  • Spring, photograph the new shots.
  • Winter notice the berries and the change in weather.
  • Summer, sit on a park bench and watch the world go by.

Be present in that moment and notice, what you notice.

Sea breeze: Plan a day to be by the seaside. No, I don’t mean Brighton beach – there are a number of less crowded seaside towns along our coastline. From Norfolk to West Sussex, there are a number of hidden gems. Let the sea breeze blow away the cobwebs and treat yourself to a Mr Whippy.

Hug a tree! There are many benefits to hugging a tree. “It’s such a wonderful feeling of relaxation and then you’re ready for a new day and new challenges.”

Remember, practicing mindfulness might feel unfamiliar initially, but think of it as mental exercise with each practice leading to a strengthened mind. 

Coaching that works around you

As a Professional Development Coach, I am qualified and experienced in two neuroscience-based and therapeutic coaching techniques: Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) and Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT).

This is in addition to my knowledge and experience with more traditional coaching practices as a Certified Professional Coach. Together these provide the tools to gain deep insight and understanding of your mindset and the way you think and show up in the world.  You will easily be able to apply all the techniques we work on, in your day to day life. 

To find out more, book your virtual coffee with me: HERE