The benefits of practising mindfulness

Are you paying attention?

illustration of brain with a lot of texts inside it in all directions and sizes, symbolizing the constant chatter

You’ve probably heard about the concept of mindfulness: Being fully aware about what you are feeling and thinking. But what does it help you to learn and practice it? Is it just woo woo science that hippies talk about or does there lie some truth to it?

Mindfulness and meditation go quite much hand in hand in my opionion: Trying to quiet down all the chatter in your mind to be able to notice the shifts in your health and mood and what might be causing them. When meditating and practicing mindfulness you’ll also be able to feel less stressed throughout the day by noticing when you need to take a break to calm down your mind.
Although they are quite similar there is a bit of a difference: You can practice mindfulness anywhere no matter what you are doing while meditation will require some effort to get good at. Meditation will, however, help you make reference points to go back to when practicing mindfulness.

The great thing with mindfulness is that once you’ve learned it somewhat you’ll just need to keep practicing it in your daily life to become good at it, and once you’ve become somewhat good at recognizing your thoughts and feelings you can quite instantly fix bad behaviors. Theses can be anything from having negative thoughts to tensing your body up in unnecessary places.

There are many ways you can practice mindfulness in your daily life: While walking, Eating or just sitting and waiting.

Mindful eating to notice all the flavors in something as simple as a grape

This exercise of mindfulness can be applied to any kind of food really. I got introduced to this concept when I read “The Peaceful warrior” by dan millman. In the book there is a chapter where the main character Dan is eating a fruit salad with his mentor Socrates, just throwing in the food and chewing it down to quickly be able to scoop in some more. Socrates then challenges him by questioning if the food tastes anything to him when he eats it that fast. And it is true that many people just eat quickly to be able to get back to their stressful work and lives, not enjoying any of the good things.

So the next time you eat somethings slow down and think about what it really tastes, looks and feels like. Take the example of a grape: start by feeling how the grape feels in your hands, how much it weights and what it’s texture looks like. Then smell the grape and see if you can notice any distinct smell you haven’t before. Now put the grape in your mouth to fell how it feels on your tongue, not trying to chew on it just yet. Then take a bite or two into the grape and feel the juices from it flowing in your mouth. You might notice some sweetness and sourness mixed that you have not done before, maybe your mouth is releasing saliva? Then continue in a slow manner to chew the grape until you don’t feel or taste anything new and proceed to swallow it. Swallowing it also focus on how it feels when the grape goes down your throat and into your belly.

Mindful walking around and around

One way to practice mindfulness is to slowly walk around in a room or by slowly going back and forth in a line. The main idea here is that you are not in a hurry: You’ve got all the time in the world. So you start by standing still with your feet shoulder width apart and a straight spine, still sometwhat relaxed in your muscles without tensioning up.

Slowly take a step forward while focusing on slow breathing, try to get into a kind of rhythm where your breath and steps are synchronized. Take some more slow steps forward, focusing on doing them slowly and feeling the sensation of your body relaxing and your feet touching and lifting off the floor. If you walk in a line make a stop after some steps, turn around and repeat. You can also walk around in a circle if you prefer.

Stop from time to time to notice how you are feeling and what thoughts might arise. When you later sometime are stressed and want to calm down you can practice this to calm down and realize what might be causing it.

Mindfulness everywhere else

You can practice mindfulness no matter what you are doing. The hard thing is to actually live fully in the present and recognize all the things happening around us constantly.