Scientific studies provide evidence for both the mental and physical benefits of mindfulness. Just as exercising regularly helps your body and mind become healthier and helps you feel good, regular mindfulness practice can prevent and treat chronic stress and other mental health difficulties such as anxiety and depression. I first started to practice mindfulness when living in Qatar at a really awesome course run at Yama Yoga studios with a beautiful woman, a mindfulness and Yoga teacher called Jacki. She taught me the art of acceptance, to breath and to live in the moment. It really did help me during my expat life, the ups and the downs.
Living in a more mindful way also helps you feel less controlled by your thoughts, enhance relationships, and become more focused which, overall, leads to a healthier, happier, more fulfilled life.
Becoming more mindful
Here are three practical activities to help you to slow down and connect more with the here and now:
1. Connect with your senses
Slow down and acknowledge your surroundings. As you make the journey home from work, look around you. What do you notice now that you didn’t see before? When you get home, take five minutes to lie down on the sofa and listen to your favourite piece of music. Savour your evening meal by eating it slowly and really taste the flavours.
2. Let it go
Mindfulness is about observing without judgement and being compassionate to yourself. Next time you start to feel stressed or negative thoughts come to your mind, treat them as if they were clouds in the sky passing through, observe them as they drift past you, without holding on to them and let them go.
3. Listen to your body
When you’re stressed and uptight, your breathing becomes shallow and you hold tension in your muscles, such as your stomach or shoulders. Becoming aware of and turning your attention to each area of your body allows you to release some of that tension. Check in with your body; where are you holding on to tightness? Can you release some of the tension through your breathing?
Take the time to practice these mindful activities and notice the difference they make to your wellbeing. Through paying more attention to the present moment and accepting your individual thoughts, you can more fully experience and enjoy your life and improve your levels of happiness and well-being.