What's the Deal With Mindfulness?
You may have heard lately the term "mindfulness" being thrown around a lot lately, especially in regards to stress relief, anxiety management, and eating. But what's it all about? I mean aren't we all mindful? We all have a mind full of sh*t to do.
Seriously though, mindfulness is a big movement in the health and wellness world, and for good reason. The concept is very simple, yet it yields big results. I am speaking from my own personal experience, plus the many books, articles, and post I have read on the topic. Let's all be Mindfulness Maniacs!
What is mindfulness exactly? Well in my head, I take it to mean just paying more attention. Whether you are applying it to eating, meditating, or want to incorporate it into your daily life, it's all about paying attention- to your thoughts, feelings, emotions, and actions. The problem is that it's way harder than it sounds. It seems like a pretty simple concept, to pay attention to what you're doing. I might be the only one who has spent a majority of her adult life rushing around, stressing, locking myself out of my house, forgetting things at the store, passing highway exits, and letting my emotions run unreasonably out of control, but I bet I have a few people out there that feel what I'm sayin'!
In my opinion, mindfulness is like dipping your toe into the bathwater of meditation. When I was first reading about and contemplating meditating, it seemed overwhelming. And frankly, kind of boring and pointless. WTF is sitting there and being quiet going to do for me? Plus there's no way I can shut my brain off and get any benefits. With most things in life that I judge without experiencing first hand, I was wrong. Shocker.
Back to getting your toes wet, mindfulness can be practiced everywhere in life. All you are doing is bringing your attention to the present moment. Once you try and practice this, you will realize how much you reside NOT in the present moment. It's stupid. We are always thinking about dumb things we did in the past, or making up anxiety inducing scenarios that will most likely never happen in the future. Why do we do this to ourselves?
I will delve deeper into the topics of mindfulness and meditation in the future, but what can you do right now to start exercising your mindfulness muscles?
1.) Mindful Eating
This one is fantastic for so many reasons besides just mindfulness practice. When you eat, I want you to slow down and do this crazy thing- sit, breathe, chew, and eat with no distractions. What the whaaaat. I know. It feels weirdly awkward at first. Make your plate look pretty. Put on some calming music perhaps. When you put food in your mouth, really pay attention to the flavors and textures. Try to chew 25-30 times before you swallow. Listen to what your stomach is telling you about being full or not. You might even find that you don't need to finish your whole plate, and you will have leftovers for tomorrow.
2.) Mindful Showers
Who doesn't love their shower time? It's our own private oasis of tranquility. Unless you have a toddler who doesn't understand personal boundaries, that is probably tough. Moms, you rule. For the most part, a shower is an ideal time to practice mindfulness. Instead of thinking of sending emails or what you have to do the next day, think about what's happening in that moment. The temperature of the water, how good your conditioner smells. Maybe you even take some time to use a body scrub that smells delightful. Shameless plug for Buzzy Body Scrub- coming soon! Use that short chunk of time to stay in the present moment.
3.) Mindful Mornings
I know morning rituals vary from person to person, but pick one of your routine items to make mindful. It will be a time to look forward to amidst the frantic morning running around. Maybe you decide to start your day with a mug of hot lemon water (I highly recommend), or you just take 2-3 minutes right when you wake up to check in with your body and see how you are feeling. Take a nice stretch, 10 deep breaths, and think of 5 things you are grateful for. Practice directing your attention away from outside stresses and bring it to the here and now.
I am not a master meditator or a master in mindfulness by any means. I live a good part of my life in "chicken with her head cut off" mode, but I have noticed how unhappy I am in that mode and am working really hard to freakin' chill, man. Dabbling in mindfulness and short meditations has already helped me greatly, and I hope the above tips help you a little, too! My life feels calmer, less anxious, and I am probably less annoying to those around me, if I had to take a guess. If you try any of the practices above, or make up your own, let me know on my Instagram! I will try to feature any stories I feel would help others! Let's spread the mindfulness love.