“What day is it?” asked Pooh. “It’s today,” squeaked Piglet. “My favourite day,” said Pooh. Who would have thought that children’s favourite teddy bear Winnie the Pooh was a good example of mindfulness?
Being mindful is about living and taking pleasure in the moment. As a result, you also fend off anxiety or depression that is caused by your mind focusing elsewhere in time.
It takes practice, but we can all benefit from mindfulness. It requires us to consciously be more aware of our immediate thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations.
The Oxford Mindfulness Centre describes mindfulness as the “moment-to-moment awareness of one’s experience, without judgement”. It prevents our attention from being hijacked by “our hopes or worries for the future, and our memories and regrets from the past”.
The benefits of mindfulness include:
A greater sense of well-being.
You enjoy the pleasures in life when they happen and become more engaged in your actions.
Improved physical health.
You sleep better, stress levels and blood pressure are lowered, and your heart is healthier.
Better mental health.
You are much less likely to suffer from depression, personal conflicts, and anxiety disorders.
And one way you can begin enjoying those benefits is through mindfulness meditation. Here’s how:
Sit silently on a comfortable seat.
Soften your gaze or shut your eyes.
Focus on the sensation of breathing.
When your mind wanders, relax and bring your mind back to your breathing.
Ideally, you should meditate for around 10 minutes each day. But you can start with a minute or two.
Guide to wellbeing for carers
Mindfulness is a key element of your personal wellbeing. We have recently published an e-book on the topic of A Guide to Wellbeing for Carers – Taking Care of “YOU”. You can download it here.
Many well-known people have talked about mindfulness and how meditation has helped them. For example, Hugh Jackman said: “In meditation, I can let go of everything. I’m just dipping into that powerful source that creates everything. I take a little bath in it.”
Paul McCartney said: “Meditation is a lifelong gift. It’s something you can call on at any time.”
Actresses Emma Watson and Angelina Jolie and the TV presenter Davina McCall have also been very vocal about how mindfulness has improved their lives.
Mindfulness in your daily life
As well as through minutes of meditation, the ways you can bring mindfulness into your daily life include:
If you mind your mind, you are being mindful. So, if your thoughts start to go astray, bring them back to the moment.
Start with the best intentions.
Begin the day by setting a few positive intentions (and write them down if necessary). Check yourself during the day to ensure you are sticking to the plan.
Focus on your tasks.
At work, give each task your undivided attention. Focus on each element and treat them as special.
Do one thing at a time and make it the subject of your full awareness.
Listen to other people.
When someone is talking, give them your full attention. Really hear what they are saying and don’t allow your mind to wander.
Whether it’s a walk or a more energetic workout, focus on the physical sensations and your breathing.
Savour the flavour.
When you are eating, allow yourself to enjoy the taste of every bite and the aroma of the food. Take your time and avoid other distractions.
Stop rushing around. If you ease the pace but concentrate on matters of the moment, everything will still get done and probably with a better outcome.
You might think you are already being mindful. If so, you won’t have done anything like this recently:
Traveled from one point to another and not noticed the journey.
Forgotten what someone said in a conversation.
Dwelt too much on past events.
Dreaded something that might happen in the future.
Given your mobile phone more attention than someone in your company.
Did any of them ring a bell? You need to be more mindful!
People in your care
As you will have gathered, mindfulness will also be of benefit to the people in your care. It’s something you can talk to them about and help them to develop.
This is especially true of people who spend a lot of time in their own company. For example, you could share information about the benefits of meditation and how to get started.
Of course, through these conversations and listening attentively, you will also be demonstrating your own mindfulness. It really is a case of the more you think about it, the more effective it becomes.
Or, as Pooh would say, make each day your favourite day.