Have you ever noticed how rarely you’re ever really here? How often, as you’re going about your daily activities, your mind is somewhere completely different? While you’re going for a walk you may find yourself thinking about work or your problems; while you’re washing up the dishes you’re contemplating your next holiday or last night’s dinner.
This is how we spend most of our lives- in a split between the actuality of the present moment and the parallel world of our thinking mind with its constant chattering, judging, anticipating and complaining. This mode is rather stressful and not very enjoyable.
Meditation, or mindfulness practice, can help us heal that split.
My favourite definition is this: Meditation is simply any method that helps us be aware of the present moment as it is.
When we’re really here, fully present with what we’re doing, we can relax and enjoy life so much more; we start noticing the flowers on our way to work again and greet a new day with gratitude instead of worry.
Meditation practice has been proved in scientific studies to have countless benefits including:
- reduced levels of stress, anxiety, depression, and chronic pain
- improved immunity and physical well being
- increased concentration, productivity, memory and clarity of mind
- improved emotional stability
- better sleep
Here are a few tips on how you can bring more mindfulness into your life:
- Whenever you have a short break, or are standing in a line waiting at the supermarket, or for a bus or a train: Relax your body and gently focus on your breathing and nothing else for a few minutes. You can notice how your belly rises and falls with each breath or just listen to the sound of your breath. Whenever you notice you’ve drifted away, simply come back to the exercise.
- When you’re walking, be aware of the movement of your body. Pay attention to the steps you make and to the movement of your feet.
- When you eat, don’t do anything else. Just enjoy the act of eating and the taste of your food.
- When you’re in nature, really look at the trees, the plants etc. Be fully there with your senses.
In short, mindfulness is about giving whatever you’re doing your full attention- that is also called living in the present moment. It’s easier than you think!
Ralf Marzen is the founder and director of StillPoint Meditation and Therapy Centre in the City of London. He runs classes and workshops in meditation and stress management. He is also a Thai yoga massage and EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) therapist. His websites are www.stillpointlondon.com and www.muditathaiyoga.com