Take a moment to get comfortable in your chair. Place your hands on your lap and slowly close your eyes. Take three deep breaths, in through your nose and our through your mouth. Allow the troubles of your day to just melt away.
Begin to notice your breath coming in and out of your nostrils or your belly rising and falling. Notice the sounds happening around you, the sensation of your feet against the floor and your hands against your thighs.
Drop in to the present moment. Be mindful of your body and your breath and slowly begin to open your eyes. How do you feel?
What you’ve just practiced is mindfulness, also known as meditation. It’s a practice which allows you to be aware of your self and your surroundings. It’s a way of being in the present moment.
In one of my earlier blogs I wrote about the ‘one thing’ we should be focusing on and how terrible we are at multi-tasking. Mindfulness is also the one-thing. It’s taking part in what you are doing with full attention, participation and gratitude.
Think of the last time you made and meal and ate it. Did you cook something up in a hurry, throw it on your plate and eat it within a few minutes of it hitting the table? Not only does that give us indigestion, but it takes away from the comfort, beauty and fortune we have to be eating such a beautiful meal.
What if you actually felt the metal of the knife between your hands. The coolness on your palms. As you grab a tomato to begin to chop you can feel the smoothness of the skin and you think about where the tomato came from. With every slice you feel the weight of the knife cutting through the flesh. You listen to the sound it makes as you throw them in to the pan and listen to them sizzle. As you finish you bring the meal over and allow yourself to look at the beautiful colours and smells coming off of your plate. You begin to take bites, one at a time. Letting yourself chew and swallow before going for the next serve. As you chew you feel the food between your teeth and the warmth against your tongue. You chew slowly and mindfully at least t10 times because the digestion of your food starts in your mouth as your saliva and teeth begin to break your food down.
Mindfulness is not only about sitting cross-legged in silence like a yogi or Buddha. It’s about creating awareness in whatever you’re doing. Think about the last time you walked somewhere. Did you feel your feet touching the ground and the way your foot felt in your shoe? Did you listen to the sounds of the city around you or feel the breeze against your skin?
We live extremely busy lives and many of us think we just don’t have time for this. There are so many new apps you can download on your phone like ‘Smiling Mind’ or ‘Buddhify’ which can guide you for less than 10 minutes a day to get yourself more connected to yourself and everything around you.
The more we slow down and allow our monkey mind to stop jumping from though to thought we can bring ourselves closer to the connection
Mindfulness and meditation have been practiced for thousands of years. It’s not only for Buddhists or hippies. Jesus said ‘the kingdom of heaven is inside of all of us.’ What he means is that there is a force that connects all human beings and by slowing down and checking in with our true selves we can become more connected to the whole. No matter if you believe in religion or science or nothing, we can all agree that every human being on this planet is the same no matter where they’ve from or the cards they were dealt.
In a study published in the journal NeuroImage in 2009, the brains of 22 meditators and 22 age-matched nonmeditators found that the meditators (who practiced a wide range of traditions and had between five and 46 years of meditation experience) had more gray matter in regions of the brain that are important for attention, emotion regulation, and mental flexibility. Increased gray matter typically makes an area of the brain more efficient or powerful at processing information. Luders believes that the increased gray matter in the meditators’ brains should make them better at controlling their attention, managing their emotions, and making mindful choices.
Mindfulness, it’s for everyone.