What exactly is mindfulness?
A way of life first taught by Buddha – the art of being aware of what we are experiencing at present, and the ability to reflect upon it. I’m also going to do the high-school thing here and quote Wikipedia: “Mindfulness is an attribute of consciousness long believed to promote well being.”
There are endless ways to practice mindfulness and they’re all equal parts simple and difficult, because somehow through our daily distractions we have to find a way to focus on the present moment. Below are my three favourite ways to practice mindfulness in my life and a little bit about them – they all have slightly different benefits and “uses” but all promote the wellbeing of your mental health at the core.
1. Floatation Therapy
While its list of benefits extend much further than mindfulness, it’s an easy way to experience something you’ve never done before while entering a meditative state. Okay, but what exactly is it? Floatation therapy (or sensory deprivation therapy) is where you slip into a pod filled with roughly 700kg of dissolved Epsom salt, which makes your body effortlessly bouyant and allows a feeling of weightlessness as your senses disappear.
I’ll be doing a proper post on floatation soon because my brother and his friends are opening up a centre in Hampton called Rest House, but as I mentioned on Instagram, it’s beneficial for you whether you’re an athlete needing help with injury recovery, an artist wanting to stimulate creativity, a student seeking a thinking space, problem solving enhancement and focus, or a human being of any age wishing to try something new, add mindfulness to their life, or aid with stress, muscular & chronic pain, insomnia, depression, acne, back pain and other ailments.
Floatation therapy has helped me to not only bring a sense of gratitude and awareness, but also to tap into ideas and and ways of thinking that I had been hoping to grasp, and reflect on situations that ultimately helped me either take action, or turn difficulties or negatives into positives once I stepped out of the pod.
I’m sure you’re well aware of meditation and have heard its benefits before, but it’s the different types of meditation that I have found most interesting. I started off practicing Chakra meditation around 7 months ago, when I first began gaining interest in crystal and holistic healing. Chakras are the 7 centres of energy – of spiritual power – in your body, and each are linked with different things like colours, elements and characteristics. When they’re blocked or unbalanced – you are unable to tap into certain areas of your consciousness and, depending on which chakra is blocked, you may have difficulty in expressing yourself verbally or creatively, feel stiffness or have negative reoccurring emotions and thoughts. While you can get your chakra’s cleared with the help of a professional (something I want to try), for Chakra meditation I mainly listen to Deeprak Chopra’s Chakra Balancing CD, or use YouTube videos for guided meditation.
Now I’ve ventured out into more general meditation, but either way, this is something that I have felt the benefits of instantaneously. I used to worry about “doing meditation wrong” because I’d have thoughts racing around in my head, until I learnt to embrace rather than eliminate them. I learnt to ground myself during meditation by letting these thoughts float past – like clouds – rather than focus on them. It’s human to begin thinking a million things when you’re especially trying not to, but I think the point isn’t to sit there in complete silence and instead let them come and go as you focus on the present – your breath, your body, and your energy.
Currently I use the Calm app on my phone for different background environment music (during one powerful Full Moon I accidentally cried at the sound of the Celestial Sunbeams one OOPS) and it helps to eliminate the panicky thoughts of “MUST. THINK. NOTHING.” Meditation has been a fantastic way to help me become more patient, practice gratitude for the things I have in my life, as well as embrace a calmness in my soul.
Now, I’m not saying that I have spent years doing this – I am very much a beginner who’s yet to attend a class but enjoys practicing in my spare time. And, while I currently have a yoga mat that has been used more for meditation than yoga itself, the benefits are there.
Yoga aims to achieve the unity of the body, breath and mind. It’s fantastic for flexibility, realignment of your spine, posture, injury-prevention, overall physical health, and… mindfulness! A blogger I follow pointed out how it also taught her patience, first by practicing to perfect the poses and then beyond the session in her daily life.
Just the feeling of being anywhere near as flexible as I was when I was 10 and in a dance aerobics team doing all sorts of fancy cartwheels and straddle pull throughs is enough to boost my mood up. It gives you that kind of feeling that you’ve done all of your exercises for the week a few minutes in (and that’s my favourite kind of exercise).
By practicing yoga, you have to be aware of your body, movements and breathing, and if that’s not being in the present and practicing mindfulness then I don’t know what is (….. other than meditation and float therapy).
I’d love to hear any ways you bring mindfulness into your life – and remember that there is no right or wrong way, just try different techniques and seeing what works the best for you! 🙂