This blog post has been written by guest writer and Editor of Breathe Magazine Australia Madison White. UQ Sport has partnered with Breathe Magazine Australia to inspire you to slow down and enjoy a more mindful approach to living.
With the increasing presence of the digital world, it seems our already bustling lives are becoming busier than ever before. These extra demands on our time tend to leave us feeling constantly barraged and always slightly behind schedule. We regularly entertain the idea that if we push ourselves harder, work longer hours, and multi-task more, we’ll be ‘doing life’ more effectively. Conversely, this mindset means we’re simply missing out on small, simple, everyday moments of joy.
While the first visual that presents itself when you picture mindfulness likely involves a zen yogi meditating at a temple surrounded by lush foliage and burning incense, at its heart, being mindful is about paying attention and being curious about the present moment. Mindfulness is an awareness of yourself and your environment; staying focused in the present moment without mentally drifting from that experience.
Far from a fad, research continues to show that creating an atmosphere of mindfulness in your everyday life can reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and minimise pain sensitivity. Being mindful can also improve your sleep, boost your memory, increase cognitive functioning and help you process emotions more effectively.
While the mental and physical health benefits of mindfulness are touted, incorporating its practice in your daily routine can feel like a difficult transition at first. Yet being mindful doesn’t have to be laborious work, nor should it feel like work at all. Engaging in simple acts of awareness will enable you to appreciate your current circumstances and effectively deal with any day-to-day issues as they arise. A life more mindful means you’ll be standing in good stead when thrown one of life’s inevitable curve balls, and deeply grateful for the magical moments that reveal themselves to you when your eyes and heart are open to the now.
Here are my favourite ways to incorporate mindful moments into your everyday routine.
1. Stop, ruminate and listen
When you find your thoughts wandering, whether in a lecture or in the ice cream aisle at the supermarket, take a moment to hone in on a particular sound in your current environment. It could be the constant tapping of your note-taking neighbour’s keyboard, or the soft hum of the freezers. Focus on the sound and use this aural cue to mindfully loop in to the here and now.
2. Fragrant focus
Whether it’s your barista-made brew on the way to your next tute, the floral bouquet of jacarandas dancing in the air, or the dusty wafts of a library textbook, scents are a powerful way to focus your attention on the present. Harness your sense of smell by keeping a favourite fragrance nearby – it could be the pages of a cherished book or a small vase of flowers. As needed, take a mindful moment to savour the aroma.
3. Absorbing activities
Beneficial for increasing brainpower and maintaining mental acuity, puzzling requires in-the-moment focus and attention. As you strive to find a solution, you practise patience and remain in the now – and hopefully experience the elation of solving a problem!
4. Kind mind
Check in with your thoughts. How are you feeling right now, in this moment? Have you acknowledged any unsettling emotions or thoughts you have had today? Every now and then, take some time to recognise the sensations flitting through your mind. Are you wistful, distressed, or content? Do you feel lethargic? Or full of energy? Don’t allow yourself to dwell or try to ‘fix’ your feelings. Simply acknowledge your present emotions – then let them go.
5. Body bliss
Take a mindful moment to notice your entire body. Are you holding any tension? Have you held a certain position for too long? How’s your posture? If you become aware of any areas of unease, take a few minutes to scan through each sensation and address the underlying cause. Stand and flex. Stretch and relax. Feel every fibre of your being, and settle in to yourself.
Close your eyes. Allow yourself to slow down. Let your body be still. Let your mind quieten. Inhale deeply, slowly. Pause. Be aware of this moment. Release your breath gently, slowly. Be mindful of how you feel, right here, right now; then resume your day with a grateful heart.
For more inspiration on how to slow down, find greater happiness and live more mindfully, head to Breathe Magazine. Breathe …. and make time for yourself.