Mindfulness is a way of living more consciously, instead of always rushing around. It helps you to make sure that your needs are being met. Being fully present in the here and now sounds wonderful, but how do you do this in practice?
We’ve all experienced that feeling of being fully present in the moment: Maybe it was while watching a breathtaking sunset, listening to beautiful music or spending a night out with somebody we love. Our mind goes quiet and we’re completely focused.
In our daily lives, it’s difficult to maintain that conscious focus on the here and now. We’re busier than ever, always “on”, and inundated by a myriad of stimuli on a daily basis. How are you supposed to stay grounded in the present? Mindfulness can help you with this.
Stand Still and Enjoy the Moment
From meeting to meeting and milestone to milestone. We’re often so focused on doing things that we forget to pay attention to what’s happening in the present. We don’t stop and enjoy the moment.
OpenUp Psychologist Sarah Takens often sees this at work. “One of my clients was finding it difficult to stop and celebrate her accomplishments. As soon as she achieved something or reached a goal, there was always something else on the horizon. During our consultations, we practiced consciously slowing down to appreciate a particular experience. How does success feel? She now let’s herself be truly grateful: ‘There are butterflies in my stomach, I feel the corners of my mouth lifting, energy pulses through my whole body.’ She’s still a goal-orientated person, but she now knows how to pay more attention to her positive feelings. She no longer views these as a distraction.”
What Can Mindfulness Do for You?
For many people, mindfulness is hugely important – especially in times like these. How can it benefit you? Sarah explains:
Ability to make sure you’re meeting your own needs
“We’re busier than ever and really focused on action: We’re always making to-do lists and checking things off, setting goals, analyzing and overthinking. This “doing” mindset gives us the impression that things always need to be different and better. We don’t just see this at work, but also in our leisure time, relationships and hobbies. As a tool, mindfulness can help you learn to listen to yourself better, asking the question: What do I really need? Instead of: What should I be doing?”
Improved balance in all areas of your life
“In today’s society, we always feel like we need to be “on”. This causes us a lot of stress. That’s why stress is such a common theme in our OpenUp consultations. It’s often exacerbated by the fact that we play a lot of different roles in our own lives; meaning we need to be multiple things at once. Mindfulness can be used as a tool to give us an awareness of this. It becomes easier to distance ourselves from our thoughts, focus better, and make more conscious decisions. This stops us from getting mindlessly swept up in a variety of different stimuli and experiences.”
Increased focus and concentration
“We all have to process a lot of stimuli and information. This means that our concentration is very fragmented. Multitasking has long been perceived as aspirational, but in reality, it often produces inferior results, rather than better ones. We find it difficult to focus all our attention on doing one thing at a time, because we believe it’s not really good enough. But, it’s actually definitely worth giving it a try, because the results usually speak for themselves. You have an improved attention span, and find it easier to focus and concentrate. You also don’t feel so overstimulated.”
Mindfulness in Practice
Mindfulness is something you can try at any time of day and in any situation. It involves conscious attention and practice, something that we’re happy to help you with here at OpenUp.
Sarah: “At OpenUp, we have designated mindfulness consultations. Together with our clients, we do various exercises, for example breathing meditations, sensory meditations, or thought observations. After these mindfulness practices, we also give you the opportunity to reflect on the things you’ve experienced. Clients often come to their own valuable insights. The question I always find particularly helpful is: “What do you think the signals you’ve noticed are trying to tell you?”. It’s one of those questions you’ll find yourself thinking about long after the session has ended.”
Six Tips for Living More Mindfully
What can you do today to incorporate more mindfulness into your life? Sarah is here to share six tips.
1. Stop to appreciate your accomplishments
“It’s in our nature to focus on all the things that aren’t going so well or that we’d like to improve. And, as a result, the small or major wins we experience on a daily basis tend to go unnoticed. Write down all the things you’re grateful for and take a moment to soak it all up. Where in your body do you feel this sense of positivity or success? Is it a tingling in your stomach? Maybe a lightness in your head? Do you feel creative and brimming with new ideas?”
2. Take a mindful approach to performing an everyday task
“We get stuck on autopilot so often that there are many moments and actions we don’t consciously experience. You may notice this at work, but it can also happen in your private life. Try mindful eating or mindfully brushing your teeth. While performing this action make sure you’re not doing anything else and that you’re fully engaging all your senses. How does it feel to consciously perform one activity? What do you notice?”
3. Three-minute breathing meditation
“Do a three-minute breathing meditation and afterwards ask yourself this question: What do I need right now? Then act accordingly – don’t go straight back to the busyness of your day. Maybe you need something big, but it could also be something small, such as a cup of coffee in the sunshine.”
4. Use all your senses
“Are you finding life a bit overwhelming due to pressures, unprecedented circumstances or a tricky phase you’re trying to navigate? Then it’s time to practice exploring your senses. Go and sit in a beautiful place and take in everything you see, hear, smell and feel. To maintain this sense of focus, it might help if you take a moment after the exercise to write down what you observed. This exercise is also really useful in terms of preventing emotional exhaustion and burnout.”
5. Shut out all stimuli!
“The next time you’re spending time with somebody, try to be completely present in the moment. Switch off your phone and put it away. Try not to get distracted by your surroundings, what’s happening later or all the things you need to get done. Focus solely on the people you’re with. This is an exercise you can all do together, it’s fun to involve people in the experience!”
6. Make sure you have a good morning and evening routine
“No matter what the day brings: Starting and ending it well will make a huge difference to how you feel. Regularly repeating a routine can train your brain to be more mindful – and to recognize these mindful moments. Try taking a mindful shower, applying your favorite body cream or reading a book. End your day by performing an exercise such as a body scan, allowing your mind to rest after a busy day.”
Want to start practicing mindfulness with us? Then take a look at our mindfulness consultations. We’d love to help you get going.