In this article we will look at what mindfulness is, what benefits it offers and we give tips on how you can get started with it yourself.
Become aware of yourself
If you live ecologically, you make your purchases more consciously, you think about what a sustainable brand is, and whether you need it or not. You don’t just buy everything without thinking about it.
But are you also aware of yourself, of what you are doing, of the environment you are currently in? Or do you sometimes let your thoughts take over, are you overstimulated or stressed by all the tasks and activities that you still have to do?
Then it is high time to become aware of this so that you can prevent (or cure) mental and physical complaints. Mindfulness is a good way to get started. It is also something that anyone can apply. Small steps in this already make a big difference, but if you really start to make it part of your life, then you really live your fullest life.
What is Mindfulness?
When people think of mindfulness, they often say “living in the now”. And that’s certainly true, but that’s still a bit vague. With mindfulness you live in the now and you experience everything much more consciously, with full attention. You let the experience you have at that moment sink in without judging it. You do not think about what you did yesterday or what you will do tomorrow, but fully experience NOW.
Do you find the judgments of others important and do you care too much about them, do you often judge yourself badly, do you let a certain situation determine your day, your thoughts sometimes go in all directions and you don’t really know what to do with them? it frustrates you… then mindfulness is a great way to get started.
The benefits of mindfulness
Despite the fact that everything is more and more automated, we live in a time when just about everyone is walking around stressed. Everyone knows someone who was in a burn out or maybe you are in it right now. The stimuli that come our way are enormous. And then we put so much pressure on ourselves.
By living more in the now, you will judge less and you will be able to relax better. As a result, less stress hormone (cortisol) will be produced.
Clearer in your head
Sometimes (or maybe often) your thoughts take over. You don’t see anything in perspective and you don’t really know which direction you want to go. By being more aware of your thoughts and mastering them, you will be able to zoom out again and everything will become clearer to you. You will know better what you want to do.
I noticed it recently when assembling my new office chair. The plan that came with it was not a step-by-step manual, but a drawing with everything on it with numbers of the more specific parts. I already felt dizzy. How on earth am I supposed to start with that? I did not see it.
Until I took a deep breath and consciously looked at two parts that should fit together, then I recognized the parts and took them in. And so I looked more consciously at the drawing and saw it fall together piece by piece. At first I didn’t see it but by stepping away from the haze, it became clear and I got the chair put together.
You become more productive
If you are working on a task and your mind is constantly drifting about things from the past or future, it will take a long time to finish your task. You may also be distracted by all kinds of stimuli. But if you are consciously engaged in that task, here and now, everything will be done much faster and you will get more done. That gives you even more satisfaction.
It has been proven that good mental health is also important for good physical health. Stress can cause all kinds of complaints: eczema, being unable to speak, literally being unable to move, abdominal pain, palpitations,… I could go on and on.
Stress-related physical complaints are increasingly common.
Reducing stress will also make you feel better physically. And maybe you will also take the time to exercise because you have the feeling that you have the time for it instead of rushing.
Do you recognize that? You are with your partner, your children, your friends, but your mind is still on that unfinished task at work, that quarrel with that neighbor… Your body and your mind are in two different places.
What would it be like if you really connect with the people you love. Really listen to each other and not just superficial conversations. You will get to know each other much better and love each other even more.
You live fully instead of surviving
What a shame if you are doing an activity that you would really enjoy but your mind is in a different place? By being more aware that you are engaged in that activity, you will enjoy it much more.
A simple exercise in mindulness
Sit down in a place that you like. That can be the kitchen or living room, but also your garden. Now consciously perceive this environment with all your senses. Hear the cars passing, hear the birds chirping, feel the wind on your skin, look at all the colors in the room, feel the chair beneath you, feel the clothes on your skin, smell the scents of the flowers or the food that is ready, taste it fully. Observe it all consciously without judging or getting annoyed by anything.
- Just slow things down a bit. You can quickly gobble up your food, but you can also stop at every bite, look at the colors, smell the food and let it go around through your mouth several times to get the best taste.
- Don’t do anything. Doing nothing is often considered negative and lazy, while it is important for your brain. They get a moment of rest.
- Leave your phone behind. Nowadays, we quickly reach for our phones when there is an empty moment. You are sitting on the toilet, the person you are going to have a drink with goes to the toilet and you wait, you are queuing at the cash register. Instead of immediately taking that mobile out of your pocket, you can consciously record the moment.
- Breathe calmly. If it all gets too hectic for you and you can’t see it anymore, the easiest way to relax is to focus on your breathing. Your breathing is probably fast because you are in a rush. Now try to slow it down a bit. Experience how you can influence yourself to become calmer.
- Take a walk through your garden and look at everything carefully. You notice a flower that you had not seen before, some insects, you see that a certain plant has already grown well, a nut that a bird flying over has dropped. I myself can become very calm by going through the garden calmly and looking at everything. Even though I only have a small garden.
- Start your day with a short mindfulness practice. If you start your day right right away, you will feel it for the rest of the day. You can go through your garden, consciously eat your breakfast, consciously put on your clothes, really talk to your partner for a moment,… choose something that is easy to add to your life.
If you want to get started with mindfulness step-by-step, these books might be for you.
Do you practice mindfulness? What benefits have you noticed? You may have additional tips. If you haven’t applied it yet, this blog might have made you interested in getting started. Be sure to let me know in a comment below.