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by Annette Marlow
Mindfulness is an intentional practice that helps awaken, cultivate and stregthen your 'awareness'.
Practicing mindfulness has the capacity to introduce you to a new world. Your sense of awareness can become heightened and allow your to experience sights, sounds, feeling or the taste of things that you may have not noticed before.
Most critical though is that mindfulness is a drug free tool that can help you disengage from the crazy busy lives that we lead and the mental clutter that goes with it by training the mind how to stop being distracted rather bringing focus and clarity to help improve decision-making, creativity, learning, emotional reactions and problem solving.
The physical benefits of relaxation and rest that mindfulness brings is fundamental to the wellness equation.
Science has proven that through mindful practices, we can even change the structure of our brain.
Everyone has the capacity to be mindful. It simply involves cultivating your ability to pay attention in the very moment, right here and now. For some people that may be noticing sensations in your body, or following your breath, or noticing your thoughts, or hearing sounds, or observing your surroundings.
Mindfulness practice is about bringing your awareness to the present moment and noticing your thoughts and actions without making judgement about whether you like or don’t like what you find.
In other words you become much more engaged in life itself.How can you practice mindful meditation?
There are many ways. Its important to find something that suits you. Here are some examples of mindful practices:
The One Minute Exercise:
Set a clock (or your phone) on a one minute timer. Your task is to focus your entire attention on your breathing, and nothing else, for one minute.
This involves sitting down at a table and eating a meal without engaging in any other activities - no newspaper, book, TV, radio, music, or talking. Eat your meal paying full attention to which piece of food you select to eat, how it looks, how it smells, how you cut the food, the muscles you use to raise it to your mouth, the texture and taste of the food as you chew it slowly.
You may be amazed at how different food tastes when eaten in this way and how filling a meal can be. It is also very good for the digestion.
While walking just concentrate on feeling of the ground under your feet, listening to your breathe, observing what is around you...... Let all your other thoughts go, just look at the sky, the view, the other walkers; feel the wind, the temperature on your skin; enjoy the moment.
Body scanning cultivates mindfulness by focusing your attention on various parts of your body. Like progressive muscle relaxation, you start with noticing your feet and then work your way up. Simply focus on the way each part of your body feels without labeling the sensations as either “good” or “bad”.
There are many opportunities during the day that you could bring mindfulness into. Whatever it is (eg cooking, cleaning, washing your teeth), slow down, let go of thinking and tune in to your senses. What do you notice? This can allow moments of mindfulness into your busy day.