What is Mindfulness? | Advice from an ESPA Expert

Over the last few years Mindfulness has become one of those big ‘buzz’ words in the spa and wellbeing industry. Many of us have been left wondering what this word actually means and some of us are considering how we could possibly fit ‘mindfulness’ into our already chaotic, busy lives.

Mindfulness isn’t about just being silent, sitting still for hours on end whilst performing a meditation. Mindfulness is any action or activity that brings you in to the present moment, where you aren’t overthinking the little details of what may have happened to you 10 years ago, or even yesterday for that matter. You also aren’t making presumptions of what could possibly happen later today or next week. Being Mindful means to be in the here and now, really being in the present moment.  Being present means you are able to fully enjoy what is happening around you right now; taking in the sounds you’re hearing, the beautiful sights you can see, the colourful smells and the tastes.

Sometimes we can get so caught up in everyday life, the stresses, the mundane routines and general anxiety that we lose sight of the present moment and the beauty of life all around us.

Sometimes our daily routines become so monotonous and automatic that we go through the day on autopilot and we can overlook moments that may be special in their own little way. Each day is a gift given to us, and I know this may sound a little preachy, but each day could be treated as such. We were given this day; allow yourself to open your eyes and open your mind to what is there right in front of us.

I often get asked ‘how can I be mindful when I have overriding thoughts, sometimes thoughts that I just can’t seem to shift?’. I can completely understand this frustration. We are all human; we all have thoughts that come and go throughout our minds; some maybe more than others and that is completely natural and valid. The thoughts that we have, no matter what situation we are in are totally fair and they are what makes us who we are, we are never going to turn these thoughts off completely.

It’s all about accepting these thoughts we have in a non-judgemental way, speaking to ourselves with kindness and finding a way of releasing these thoughts away from our minds just as quickly as they came in.

Allowing us then to see things from a healthy perspective. It is something that unfortunately won’t happen overnight. It does take patience and practise but learning to take this time for you and working on changing these thought patterns will help to free up space in your mind to gain clarity, which in turn is going to allow you to see and react to situations, events and challenges in a much more positive, clearer way.

We come back to the concerns of how we can fit all of this into our everyday lives. It’s something we can all do, and we can do it even without the need to free up time in our day. You can even be more mindful when you are doing chores at home, such as, washing the dishes or doing the ironing. When you are doing whatever it is you are doing throughout the day focus on the thoughts that are coming in to your mind. If they are unhelpful, disruptive thoughts, acknowledge them, accept them but as quickly as they arrive in your mind, bring your focus on to the task you are doing. Feel how the soap and the water feels on your hands as you wash the dishes or hear the sound of the iron as it steams over the laundry; and just like that, those disruptive thoughts have been replaced in your mind. You can always come back to that thought but for now you are enjoying the feeling and sensations of this present moment. This is the first step of ‘mindfulness’ Keep doing this throughout the day and over the next few days, weeks or months you may start to notice that your mind is a little bit freer!

Mindfulness is also all about doing activities and things that you love doing; things that fill you with joy and positive energy. Whether that’s reading a book, drawing, running, yoga, walking through a country park, baking a cake, singing in the shower or even having a PJ day, curled up under a blanket watching your favourite film. All these things will bring you in to the present moment, you’ll be so lost and caught up in what you’re doing that your mind is free from any doubts, worries or fears.

Now comes meditation. Meditation is a practise where we focus our mind on a positive thought, activity or feeling. When we think of meditation we often think of an image, an image of someone in complete silence, completely still for hours on end; don’t let this put you off, because anyone can perform a meditation. Even taking five minutes to yourself through the day to listen to a guided meditation really counts! Meditation is a way of training the mind to be more aware of its surroundings and to achieve a more calm and clear mental state of mind. Just as I spoke about brining your focus back to the present when you are washing the dishes, during meditation you can use the same idea, although it takes just a little more perseverance and practise to focus your mind on something else when you are just lying or sitting still. If you find this a little difficult, guided meditation could be the way for you. It’s so simple, as you just need to allow yourself to relax and be guided by the persons voice. There are plenty of apps or podcasts you can use to help to guide you along with this.

Mindfulness is all about what really works for you. Take the time to figure out what captures you and brings you into the present moment; allowing your mind to free of any unhelpful thoughts. Once you start with this you will realise how much clearer, calmer and considerate your mind is and you can really begin to enjoy the beauty of everyday life all around you.

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Thank you for reading.

Writer and expert