Mindfulness – it’s the buzzword at the moment, isn’t it? We are all told to meditate, to sit in peace each day to disconnect and to be more mindful of the wonderful things around us.
But all this is often easier said than done. We know we should be grateful for the blessings in our life, and we realize we should take more time to really notice them, but often, other work/life pressures get in the way, and it can seem like an effort to sit and stare at a tree out of the window when you could be just checking that last Facebook update…
I’ve practiced yoga for the past 12 years and I love it. I’m not an expert, and each new teacher or class I’ve practiced with has taught me new ways of looking at my practice. I have tried to develop a meditation habit, but I’ve never been very successful.
So, recently, I decided to ditch the books on mindful meditation and write my own Mindful Manifesto of how I can bring everyday mindfulness into my life without having to put ‘Mindful Meditation’ onto my to-do list.
Here are 3 simple ways you can do the same:
No fad diets, berating oneself over a chocolate biscuit. Applying the mindful approach idea, this would just involve thinking about what you’re going to shove into your mouth before you eat it.
How often have you sat at your desk, shovelling lunch down, whilst checking e-mails, only to realise later that you have no idea what you ate? This is also a sure-fire way of feeling hunger pangs again a little while later, as you ponder whether you actually ate lunch at all.
I know you might have a busy job and it seems unheard of to take a lunch break anymore, but at least, if you must eat at your desk, just do that one thing: Eat. Ten minutes away from e-mails, social media and other distractions won’t kill you. Take out that sandwich or salad and look at it. Consider how it looks, the different colours of the food. Take a bite or mouthful and consider the differing textures on your palette. Swallow. Taste the food. Eat slowly, take your time to enjoy your meal, whatever it is. I bet you find you feel fuller afterwards, too.
The key here is to choose an exercise form that you enjoy. Think you don’t enjoy anything? I’m positive you can find something that suits you. If you’re sociable, what about joining a team or partner sport, such as netball or tennis? That way, you get socialisation at the same time as exercise.
If you are anything like me, I get a cold sweat just looking at a gym. But I love walking, which fortunately happens to be one of the easiest ways to get moving. Mindful walking practices involve taking in the surroundings you are walking through. This doesn’t have to just be a natural environment, though. City walks can yield interesting sights and sounds if you take notice. Try looking up at buildings and considering the differing architecture of the place you inhabit; it helps you to see your hometown in a completely different light.
I also practise yoga as I’m very lazy and don’t like fast exercise classes. I find the combination of long walks and stretches in yoga class to work my muscles and aid relaxation are the perfect combination for me, but everyone is different, and once you find the right exercise for you, it should be a joy – something you look forward to – not a chore.
I’ve never been a big makeup person, so this isn’t such a difficult one for me, but one thing I have discovered is that my skin feels so much better the less gunk I put onto it.
Like many people, I’ve fallen into the trap over the years of buying all the latest, expensive treatments for my skin: moisturisers and mascara’s that have outlandish promises. But recently, having been diagnosed with an allergic skin condition, I cut out all products containing perfumes and harsh chemicals. I bought some products from a local health shop which were organic and had nothing added, instead created from all natural ingredients. I thought these were going to be more expensive, but in fact they were either the same as my usual products or cheaper.
A couple of months on, I can honestly say, my skin has never felt clearer. I’ve suffered with adult acne for years, even trying medication for it, and whilst it hasn’t cleared up completely, it’s definitely improved since using the less expensive, more natural products.
I’m also trying much harder to recognise my ‘best’ features when I look in the mirror, instead of criticising my ‘bad’ ones. In the past, I’ve often berated myself for having a big nose, for example. Now, I look at myself and think, ‘those freckles the sun has brought out on the bridge of my nose make me look younger’. And it really works! I’ve started to appreciate the way I’ve grown into my looks as I’ve got older and (hopefully) wiser.