Caught up in a whirlwind of activity, sometimes the simple pleasures associated with this time of year are lost or taken for granted, such as time spent with loved ones, snuggling up by the fire or a brisk winter’s walk.
Mindfulness practices can therefore be a wonderful way of slowing everything down in order to take in and appreciate the whole experience. They can also help alleviate the pressures and stresses associated with our hectic lives.
Here are a few tips to introduce a little bit of mindfulness into your day to day life:
- Start the day with clarity. Before the momentum of the day takes hold of you, allow yourself some quiet time when you first wake up. This could be sitting or lying. You could start by focusing the mind by observing sensations in the body or your breath, or practicing your own meditation techniques. It doesn't have to be for long; just five minutes can be enough to free the mind of unnecessary clutter.
- Don't forget to breathe. At any point in the day when things get a little too hectic, simple breathing exercises can help to calm and refocus the mind. Observing and lengthening the breath by counting the length of your inhalations and exhalations is one example.
- Eat with awareness. We often rush through meals in our haste to get on with our day. When you're eating try to observe the quality of the food you are eating, using all of your senses. Consider the textures, the taste and the smell and with that can come a greater sense of satisfaction and appreciation for your food.
- Do one thing at a time. If you're eating, eat. If you're walking, walk. If you're talking on the phone, talk on the phone. Often we try to multi-task to the extent that we are never fully engaged in the whole experience of what we are doing. Our minds become busier than they need to be and we miss things. By slowing down and concentrating on one thing at a time in its entirety we become more present and effective in the way we approach things.
- Switch off and power down. Often we're so absorbed by email, social media and the TV that our minds never stop. As often as you can, try to take time out. This could be switching off an hour before bedtime every day, or going away for a weekend without looking at your phone. In whatever way you can, make space for the mind to be quiet and try to learn how to exist without needing regular stimulation from the outside world.