What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is about paying attention to what is happening in the moment without judgement or trying to change anything. When we are in the present moment we aren’t overwhelmed with worries about what has happened in the past and we aren’t speculating and getting wound up by what is going to happen in the future. All we really know is- this moment- and if we can really be in this moment we can reduce the stress and anxiety that comes from the mind bouncing back and forth into the past and future.
When we are being mindful in the moment we engage our senses; sight, touch, smell, taste and sound and when we do this we might find that we have taken for granted things that could enrich our lives- the feeling of the sun on your face, the first sip of coffee in the morning, a child holding your hand, stroking an animal, a conversation with a good friend or a compliment for work well done.
When we aren’t in the moment we are on Autopilot- rushing from one thing to the next, lost in thought, anxious to get to the next task, the next meeting, the next school run, the next gym session, the next meal – and it goes on and on with no end in sight. Sound familiar? Mindfulness encourages us to stop, pause, notice, take a breath and respond to situations rather than react out of habit.
Meditation is one way that we can be more mindful, we sit with the sensations in the body, the feelings and emotions we are experiencing, the thoughts that are present and we come to the breath because the breath is an anchor to the present moment.
Everyone can meditate. Yes, even you with the busy mind!
I have taught hundreds of people to meditate and many of them told me that before coming to my sessions they had given up on meditation because they thought they couldn’t ‘do it’. The reason for this is because we get fixated on the idea that we need to empty the mind, we need to have a blank mind, thinking is bad and we aren’t doing it properly.
The point of mindfulness is noticing that we are lost in thought and bringing awareness back to the present moment – so if we are meditating it would be bringing awareness into the breath, sounds, or sensations in the body. We might notice we are lost in thought 10, 20, 30, 40, 50+ times in a 10 minute meditation and that’s ok- you aren’t doing it wrong. Sound encouraging? Ok, so depending on what you want from mindfulness and meditation (switching off your busy mind) this might be a bit disappointing. However don’t despair, after practicing mindfulness you will develop a friendlier and more accepting relationship to your thoughts and because of this you won’t cling to them as tightly, which can improve your mental health and help you feel less stressed and more in control.
How can mindfulness support you to have a happier life?
Happiness means different things for different people. However it’s fair to say that most of us would want to have more control and choice in how we live our lives and respond to life’s ups and downs, we would want to develop life skills that can improve our mental health by reducing stress and anxiety and the re occurrence of depression, we would want to be more emotionally resilient, finding inner peace and calm wouldn’t be a bad thing either, and less critical self talk and better relationships with others; friends, family and colleagues would be a bonus.
Mindfulness and meditation can support you to develop all these areas in your life and more; improved sleep/reduction in insomnia, more motivation and increased concentration, more physical and mental energy, lower blood pressure and heart rate and better pain management.
Why is being mindful in nature so good for us?
Nature is a ‘free prescription’ it soothes our worries, helps us to feel calm and gives us a bigger perspective on life. Close your eyes and imagine being in a green space full of trees, rolling hills and meadow flowers, listening to the sound of the birds and the wind in the trees- notice what happens in your body- it relaxes. Research shows that we only need to spend 20 minutes in nature for the stress hormone cortisol to significantly reduce, we are then in the best physical and mental state to be mindful and meditate. Nature does most of the work, all we need to do is bring awareness to what is happening, right here, right now.
Next steps for a more mindful home and work life........
At Wild Awake Mindfulness we offer a variety of ways for you to access mindfulness and mediation with outdoor nature based events, mindfulness taster sessions and nature based away days for your workplace, and teaching / coaching in mindfulness for individual clients. We work throughout Greater Manchester and sometimes further afield if there is an exciting opportunity that we just couldn’t say no too!
Interested in trying out mindfulness and meditation in nature? Go to the Events page
Want to learn mindfulness and meditation as a way to reduce stress, worry and anxiety, or manage pain? Claire is an experienced teacher and offers coaching in mindfulness and meditation, all sessions will be tailored to your needs. Go to the Learn Mindfulness page
Witnessing workplace burnout, work related stress and anxiety among your colleagues and want to create a happier, healthier and more mindful workplace? Go to the Workplaces page.