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People often ask me “Why should I start practising mindfulness?” and “Mindfulness is just a phase isn’t it?” Well, the short answer is “No?” but I’m guessing you are going to want a little more than that.

Mindfulness has become increasingly popular in recent years and that is no doubt thanks to Jon Kabat-Zinn who created his Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction programme in 1979. Since then it has slowly grown in popularity. 

I had never heard of mindfulness until about 10 years ago, despite this I had been living mindfully my entire life, so how can that be true?

Well, as with many things, the programme created by Jon Kabat-Zinn draws on very ancient wisdom and teachings from Buddhism and Hinduism to ancient nature based belief systems. Much of what I learned when studying mindfulness I had always known and did naturally already. 

Why you need to start practising mindfulness

So how did I already have all this wisdom? Well, it’s thanks to these two wonderful people; my Grandad Joe and Grandma Mary (yes I know my grandparents were Mary and Joseph, and my Grandad was even a carpenter, how awesome is that?). I was lucky that throughout my life all my grandparents were omnipresent, we had meals together at the weekend, went on holiday together and spent a lot of quality time together. I was also incredibly blessed to still have three grandparents when my son was born so they were in my life a long time.

 

Grandad Joe grew up in a village in York. He grew up understanding the seasons, knowing about nature; birds, fish, animals, trees, he knew when food was in season, he understood how we interacted with our surroundings. He loved walking in the countryside and teaching us about hazelnuts, acorns, buzzards and starlings. He understood the importance of physical and mental fitness. He would stretch every morning and not just his arms and legs (he could still touch his toes when he died at the age of 90!) but also his lungs, he would always take several deep breaths out of the window, and even his eyes. He taught me eye exercises which he felt would help my eyes stay healthy, I have since seen articles recommending just these exercises as they can repaid damages to sight.

To say he was knowledgeable would be an understatement. He was like the mythical Green Man. Wisdom oozed from him and as a child I loved learning all he had to share. 

Yes Kate, that’s all very well, but why do you feel so passionately that I should learn to be mindful?

Well, if you need more reason than the fact that my Grandad Joe lived to be 90, never took any medication and could still touch his toes when he died, (and I’m not sure I need more reason than that if I’m honest!) I’ll give you some of the science behind this magical way of living.

 

As they said in a well known advert “Now for the science bit”!

“The best way to capture moments is to pay attention. This is how we cultivate mindfulness.” 

Jon Kabat-Zinn

Creator of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Therapy

What are the benefits of mindfulness?

People who practised mindfulness regularly reported:

  • feeling less stressed
  • better quality sleep
  • improved focus and memory
  • greater empathy for others
  • they felt calmer
  • feeling less anxious
  • and much more.

How can you learn to be more mindful?

Mindfulness is just about paying attention.

It is about living in the here and now.

Not allowing our monkey brains to play tricks on us.

What can you do every day to be more mindful?

Stop to think about what you are eating, how does it taste?

Did you really feel like eating it or was it just quick and easy?

Really look at the world around you.

Really listen to what people are saying when they talk to you.

And most importantly… breathe…

We all breathe, all the time, but how often do we stop to pay attention to our breath? This is one of the most powerful things you can do if you are feeling anxious or stressed. Just stop and focus for a few moments on your breathing.

Try this simple mindfulness exercise

Take a few minutes now just to sit and tune in to your breathing. You don’t have to alter it, or slow it down, just become aware of it. You may close your eyes if it helps. 

Feel your breath as it enters your body, filling your chest and stomach. 

You may notice the breath in your nostrils, or your chest. 

Feel your lungs expand as they fill with air and pause briefly before they begin to deflate. 

When you have finished breathing out notice how there is a natural pause before your lungs begin to re-inflate. 

With your next breathing cycle try to focus on the pause. 

Now, as you breathe in think the word “I” and as you breathe out think the word “am”. 

“I, am” 

How do you feel now?

Do you feel calmer?

More relaxed?

Did you notice anything about your body?

This is the essence of mindfulness. 

Want to learn to be more mindful? Sign up for my 8 week mindfulness course

There is so much more I could tell you about mindfulness and I will over the coming weeks and months. I will keep adding little tips and tricks to my news page.

I am also currently in the process of creating a free gift for those of you who sign up for my newsletter.

If you want to make sure you don’t miss out why not sign up now because I will of course be sending my gift out to current subscribers too. 

“The present moment is the only time over which we have dominion.”

Thích Nhất Hạnh

5 Mindful minutes

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