Can you remember the last time you sat with your own thoughts and nothing else?
No TV on in the background, no phone at your fingertips, just you and your thoughts for more than a couple of seconds?
It can feel like a daunting premise for many, but the benefits you could experience from this simple habit might surprise you.
Mindfulness as a practice has become increasingly popular recently, but its roots in Eastern meditation traditions stem back over 3000 years. It is essentially the act of paying attention to the present moment; of noticing what is happening around you with an attitude of openness and curiosity. Put simply, “you’re being mindful when your mind and body are in the same place” according to Psychologist & Clinical Registrar at The Mind Room, Lucy Morrish.
Although a simple concept, emerging research shows that the effects of practicing mindfulness can be incredibly powerful.
Dr Craig Hassed, Associate Professor at Monash University, states that practicing mindfulness may help us perform better academically, increase neuroplasticity, improve relapse rates of depression, ease food cravings, improve compassion, improve chronic pain, improve sleep quality and improve immunity.
To sum it up, mindfulness “may be the most important skill we ever learn.”
According to Lucy, this can have dramatic benefits for our quality of life, and even our relationships with others. This is because it allows us to be “a lot more present with those we interact with, to allow the other person to really be seen and heard.”
So how do you do it? How do you stop constantly doing and instead just be?
Lucy suggests it’s about starting small.
“Stopping what you’re doing and spending a minute or two to just tune in to the five senses can be a great starting point. Stop, take a couple of deep breaths, and just notice - what can I see, what can I smell, what can I taste, what can I hear, at can I touch? That’s a really good way of connecting us to the now and taking in what’s around you.”
You can incorporate this at various times throughout your day, such as over your morning coffee, on your lunch break or when you go to bed.
Fortunately, Lucy emphasised that you don’t need to be doing this for hours on end, but incorporating just five minutes a day “can be a starting point to create more mental space in your day.”
The important thing to remember is that mindfulness is not about stopping your thoughts entirely though. Rather, as Lucy reminds us, “It’s just about becoming more familiar with what’s going on in your mind as well as what’s going on around you.”
It’s a way of slowing down, paying attention, and getting more out of the moment.
To learn how to put these tips into action, book into our Urban Mindfulness workshop with Lucy Morrish. In this workshop, you’ll learn how to focus your attention on the present moment, how to practice mindfulness using meditation, and how to practice mindfulness in everyday activities.