It's Monday, a working day. You just finished making breakfast. At the back of your head you recount the mental list of to-do tasks whilst picking out your outfit of the day. The watch displayed 8 a.m. and you are at the train station- it’s your daily commute to work, the train is coming in 5 minutes and as you scroll through Twitter you wondered whether you should catch a movie this weekend. Your day passes, work is completed and you find yourself in bed. Did you notice the thunderstorm on your way back? Or whether you woke up feeling relaxed this morning?
Mindfulness is one’s ability to be present, to be in the now, fully immersed with the activities we’re doing at that point in time. One could even say that “living in the moment” is deemed as mindful. The all-knowing Merriam-Webster defined it as the practice of maintaining a non-judgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one's thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis. A lot of individuals use the terms mindfulness and awareness interchangeably. However, there is a contrast as awareness is not often mindful; but mindfulness is always aware.
So how can this practice be beneficial in our daily lives? Among many other things, being mindful helps individuals reduce their anxiety, improves cognition and reduce distraction. Seems achievable, no? But the hardest part of mindfulness is to make the act a daily habit.
The good news is that mindfulness is both a combination of attitude and practice. And there are many helpful tools that can help you practice and develop mindfulness.
Headspace is probably one of the best-known apps out there to understand the essentials of meditation and mindfulness. It features a 10-part basics course that is designed with beautiful graphics and simple-to-understand instructions that could easily be grasped by average Joes. The easy to follow exercise ranges from 5-10 minutes per sessions and it focuses on breathing and checking in on how you feel. This app is perfect for beginners dipping their toes in the mindfulness path.
If you’re someone that wants data and prefers a tailor-made programme to suit your needs you could give Smiling Mind a go. The moment you open Smiling Mind, you will be prompted to input relevant information in order to attain a customised list of guided meditations. The questions are asked to gauge your experience, identify your interests– which could be to practice mindfulness, improve performance and enhance sleep. The customisable element will help save time and get you started on your journey.
The Calm app certainly lives up to its name, as users are greeted with the gentle sound of the great outdoors when the app is opened. Users have the options to choose various relaxing melodies- from the sounds of falling rain, birds trilling or peaceful lake ambience. Rated the 2017 app of the year by Apple, Calm offers basic mindfulness practices that comprises 25 meditation exercises that comes in different lengths, aimed at helping users unwind and refocus their attention. Besides that, there are also programmes for intermediate and advanced users.
Whether you are on the move, eating, at home or feeling emotionally distressed, being mindful is there to help us snap back to reality and be in touch with our actions and feelings. It is a way of living that can be achieved by anyone.
So it’s Tuesday now, you are folding laundry and watching television. As you raked your head and the mind is starting to drift away, hit the pause button, take that deep breath and be mindful. Good luck!
Image source: Wired/https://bit.ly/2y6JQLX
Written by: Sarah M