When it comes to health and wellness, there seems to be a never-ending list of trends to try and products promising blissful, wholesome health.
While it’s always fun to dip a toe into these new trends to see what resonates for you (because let’s be honest, chanting ain’t for everyone!) – one trend that has never gone out of style is mindfulness. And at IQS, we’re huge advocates of the practice.
It’s a subject we have touched on in the past, but whether it’s mindful meditation, mindful eating or just making an effort to be fully present, here’s what you need to know…
What is mindfulness?
Our thoughts are so often focused on the future or the past that the majority of us don’t even know what it’s like to be fully engaged in the present. Mindfulness is about learning that (believe it or not) the mind has a resting place. In fact, it needs that resting place in order for your mind to stay healthy. Just like our bodies can relax, the mind can relax too.
But resting the mind doesn’t mean you need to space out, force the mind into a fake blissful state, or even stop thinking altogether. Mindfulness is about noticing the ways our mind likes to steal our attention away from the present. It’s about catching ourselves when our mind begins to wander, and then gently re-focusing ourselves back to what we’re actually doing.
Are there scientific benefits to mindfulness?
Various studies over the last few years have shown that there are, in fact, scientific benefits when it comes to making mindfulness part of your daily routine. It’s been linked to developing stronger immune responses, triggering electrical brain activity to more positive emotional states, as well even reducing the rate of relapse with depression.
Three of our favourite ways to practice mindfulness:
Mindfulness doesn’t have to mean sitting in silence at sunrise in the middle of a forest or on a beach. Get rid of that “Hollywood” version of mindfulness and do whatever works for you.
- Mindful walking – Whether it’s during your ten-minute walk to and from work or as you do your weekly grocery shopping, mindful walking can be profoundly impactful. It’s as simple as thinking about every step you take (did Police just pop into your brain too? Wait, let’s get back to the moment). Focus all of your attention on every part of your foot that connects with the ground, every muscle in your leg needed to take each step. Simply be present.
- Mindful sitting – You can do this on a bus, on a train, in a car, or even at work. All it takes is just a few minutes to sit still with yourself and your mind. Don’t force your mind to be clear of thoughts, but rather, try and actively watch those thoughts come into your brain and let them go. Read one of Sarah’s favourite meditation techniques: sitting on a small wooden bench with yourself.
- Mindful eating – No, we’re not just saying this, mindful eating is totally a real thing. Before you eat, take a few deep breaths in order to relax and ground yourself. Before you put your food in your mouth, look at it. Really look at it. Identify the textures and the colours and then as you chew, do so slowly, and with mindfulness. We promise you’ll be amazed with how much you’ll discover about not only what you’re eating – but how you eat too.
But don’t just take our word for it, go give mindfulness a try yourself. Experiment with what form works best for you and actively stick with it. The results may just surprise you.
How do you incorporate mindfulness into your daily routine?
We originally published this post in September 2015. We updated it in June 2017.