Family & Life
How to be Mindful in 4 Easy Ways
Posted June 10, 2015 by Bethanie Lunn
I recently had the pleasure of meeting the lovely Samantha Goodchild at The Float Spa in Hove and we spent a short time discussing mindfulness and mediation to great effect. Samantha is an independent Celebrant and Minister and a Meditation Teacher who teaches courses, drop-in classes and workshops at The Float Spa. Her advice makes mindfulness accessible to us all.
If you’re not familiar with mindfulness, it is an ancient Buddhist practice which we’d all do well to practice in todays crazy world.
Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgementally, expanding your awareness; being aware of your thoughts and feelings and letting them pass through. In todays society we tend to do the opposite, we get hooked into thought, analysing, obsessing – thinking about what we need to do in the future or dwelling on pain from the past but what we really should do is concentrate on the NOW.
This increases awareness, clarity and acceptance of our present-moment reality. You come to the understanding that thoughts and feelings (including negative ones) are transient – they come and go; you don’t have to be ruled by them. The result? A calmer, happier you who feels less stressed and pressured. Samantha swears that even two minutes a day to sit and breathe will work wonders on you mentally and physically (welcome news when we’re running on empty).
Before Samantha started practicing meditation and mindfulness, she didn’t realise how stressed out she was, over-analysing the past, the future and therefore missing the now – consistently thinking about the next thing to do. It’s the same for many of us, ‘I like to think of the mind as a small child demanding attention who will do anything to distract you’, Samantha says, ‘so if you couldn’t give that child attention that very moment, you’d calmly say, ‘one minute, I’ll come back to you shortly’. It is the same way to treat your thoughts, gently accept them then let them pass’.
This is a mini revelation to me, I have thus far tried to empty my head of thoughts, especially at night when I’m trying to get to sleep and my mind is so active. Samantha advises, ‘if you do this, you’re creating a battle with yourself and that is never going to cause a feeling of calm. Don’t fight your thoughts or try to clear them, just let them pass.’
Sounds good right?
But what if you’re hectic, frantic and a busy mum like me? Do you have time to all this on top of your never-ending list of things to do? If you follow Samantha’s tips on how to be mindful the easy way, yes indeed you do…
1. Build a ‘PAUSE’ into your day. Find something that you do regularly during the day – maybe 2 or 3 times and when that comes up, think ‘PAUSE’. This trigger time could be when you’ve just put baby down for a nap or when dropping or collecting the kids from school or even when you go to the loo! Just choose something that you do and use it as your PAUSE reminder. In that moment think ‘PAUSE’. Bring all your awareness to your breathing. Take some slow, deep breaths. Repeat a simple mantra in your mind such as ‘breathing in calm’ and ‘breathing out relax’. Say the phrases in time with your in and out breaths. Repeat them 5 times. If these words don’t work for you, try others such as ‘peace’, ‘joy’, ‘love’ or your own words.
2. Set aside 2 minutes ‘quiet time’ every day. Find a time where this can easily become part of your routine. Put on some relaxing, calming music. Either close your eyes or light a candle and watch the flame if you prefer. Set your intention to become fully aware of your breathing and to bring your awareness to the space between your thoughts. Thoughts will come up but allow them to pass through without attaching to them. When you notice you are thinking about something, acknowledge the thought, thank it and then steer your awareness back to your breathing. For those with more experience (or more time), you could extend this mindful breathing to 15 or 20 minutes per day.
3. Mindful walking. Allow a little bit of extra time when you are walking somewhere. So for example, when you go to pick the kids from school, or while you’re pushing the pushchair around the park. Allow extra time and walk more slowly and deliberately. Become very aware of the feeling of your feet on the ground as you walk. Observe the external world around you, without judgement. Really look at the buildings you pass, the trees, the sky, the birds, the people. Listen attentively to all the sounds around you. Smell the air, the fresh grass, the exhaust fumes. Notice when your mind comes in and tries to say ‘I don’t like this or that’s unattractive or that’s a dreadful noise’. Allow the thought through and out with the intention of letting go of judgement. It is just a sound, it is just a building. Practice acceptance of what you become aware of.
4. Practice mindful responding rather than ‘mindless reacting’. When someone criticises your child for example, you may have a reflex reaction, this may be especially strong due to the protective maternal instinct. So stop for a moment and become aware of your thoughts and feelings around this.
- Ask yourself ‘what am I feeling around this at the moment? And where in my body do I feel it?’
- Then ask; What is my thinking right now? Are my thoughts true? Am I being judgemental? How might this thinking affect the action I will take?’
Then drop beneath the thoughts and reach for the response that feels right in the situation. This will allow more creative responses with more positive outcomes rather than knee-jerk negative reactions that cause more pain.
You can enquire about Samantha’s classes by clicking the links throughout this feature or getting in touch as below:
T: 01273 264179