Mindfulness is the "it" word in our busy culture but what exactly is it? And can it really help?
More and more of us are living busy lives trying to juggle the demands of work and family and as a result some of us can feel a bit overwhelmed at times.
Kate James, a Melbourne-based coach and mindfulness teacher and author of the book Be Mindful and Simplify Your Life, believes that mindfulness can help people live a less stressful and happier life.
“Mindfulness means paying attention to the present moment and importantly, doing your best not to judge the experience of that moment,” says Kate. “Ideally, when we’re being mindful we’re able to cultivate a greater deal of acceptance for all the ups and downs we experience every day.”
Here are her five tips on ways to be more mindful:
1. Before you get out of bed each morning - take at least three deep breaths and think about the attitude you want to bring to your day.
2. Eat your breakfast mindfully - this means eating more slowly and really smelling and tasting your food.
3. Pause before responding - whether it’s in-person, on the phone or via email. Take a moment to pause and think about your response, rather than just shooting from the hip in a reactionary way.
4. Move your body mindfully - this might mean getting up from your desk at lunchtime and taking a walk for fifteen minutes or maybe going to a yoga class after work. As you move, be aware of your body and how it moves.
5. Engage your senses more often - take in the beauty of the evening sky, smell the aroma of your freshly brewed coffee in the morning, soak in a bath and feel the water on your skin, lie on the sofa and listen to music before picking the kids up from school and savour that occasional but delicious piece of chocolate - without any guilt attached!
Kate says once you make being mindful a non-negotiable in your life, it’s easy to find a couple of minutes each day to be mindful but she reminds us that, “The most important thing to remember when you begin a mindfulness practice is the non-judgement part (or non-striving is another way to put it). In other words, do your best to be mindful but don’t beat yourself up when you’re not.”
She also recommends trying a few different meditation methods to find out what feels right for you.