Mindfulness is the new buzz word that is everywhere. What is it? Why do it? Can it help? or is it just some hippy crap left over from the 60’s?

Just before Easter I went on a mindfulness retreat. It had been advertised as course on how to introduce mindfulness into classrooms. I thought this can only be good practice and so signed up to it. The course came at the perfect timing for me, when I was at one of my lowest points this year.

It turned out to be more of a retreat then a course, and was more aimed at personal practice then classroom practice. That suited me perfectly. We learnt why it was good to make time for yourself each day. It doesn’t have to be long, just five/ten minutes. During that time live in the moment, notice what’s around you, really use your senses and take deep breathes.

Yes it sounds all new aged but it was very restful. The mantra of the three days was:

Relax, Release, Reflect.

Jon Kabat-Zinn says the ‘key to life is to understand ourselves; our minds, our bodies, our emotions.’ Awareness of these things happen when we pay attention on purpose to the present moment with curiosity and kindness to the things as they are.

The course made us think about what state of awareness are you in most of the day? Are you being mindful or is your mind full? If your mind is always full then can you really be aware of what is around you? Can you fully understand how your body and mind feels and what emotions you have?

Being mindful helps build your attention, your self awareness and self knowledge. It allows you the time and space to respond rather than react. You are able to connect to your breath and become more grounded. It helps you develop more empathy towards people and things around you, and importantly empathy for yourself.

In todays world it is seen as a weakness to admit you are not that that super mum who can do everything, raise kids, keep a show home, eat a macro nutrient diet, be an attentive wife with perfectly coiffed hair and show stopping makeup, exercise an hour everyday and hold down a high powered job. The media have a lot to answer for, this self imposed fake reality we think we should have.

This movement of mindfulness should not been seen as some hippy remnant of the 60″s but a great excuse to take care of yourself and be a little selfish with your time.

Here are three ways you can get your practice started:

1) Commit to something small every day. Try this five-minute breathing meditation.

2) Stop and smell the roses. (Really.) Take a sense adventure by going on a mindful hike or walk this week.

3) Find your community—online or in real time. Here are some of the benefits of meditating with others and an overview of the types of mindfulness programs at your disposal.



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