Mindfulness in the mundane…
It was a fantastic opportunity for a newbie like me to have daily access to so many experts in so many fields of mindfulness. The very last day, yesterday, Jon Kabat-Zinn hosted a 45min mindfulness meditation which was live streamed to over 250,000 people from all over the world.
So last night, with a fireworks display going on outside my window, I tuned into Jon’s voice and to my breath for 45 minutes. It was so amazing to think I was one of a quarter of a million people doing the exact same think at the same time.
In the short time I’ve been exploring this world of mindfulness I’ve found it more comfortable to concentrate on my breath rather than my body. I’ve done a few body scans and I find it very challenging to stay with my body. More about this later though.
In the middle of the meditation with Jon he invited the participants to go to our body, our whole body but to put out a welcome mat to welcome ourselves in. Something about Jon saying this about the welcome mat made the experience much more comfortable. I think it was that I was being gentle and kind with my approach and also not diving straight in – it was a slower process and I’m not sure I moved passed the mat…. but I will.
There were so many useful and helpful little tips I took away from the Mindfulness Summit. Here are just six of them that stick with me daily.
- Mindful Eating – Try to always eat mindfully and, this was a big one for me, always sit to eat. No more eating at the fridge or press! Since I’ve started trying out mindful eating I smell my food, I see my food and most importantly I taste my food. I feel the heat or cold of the fork I’m using and how the food feels in my mouth. It makes food so much more enjoyable and I’ve noticed when I am mindfully eating I eat a lot less and I don’t feel the need to finish my meals.
- Finger Mindfulness Exercise – An easy, quick, child friendly mindful meditation that can be done anywhere – close your eyes, hold one hand up, with your other index finger trace from the outside (side of your hand) of your baby finger up to the top whilst breathing in, then when tracing down the other side of the of the finger breathe out and do this, moving up and down the outside and inside of your fingers whilst breathing in for going up and out for going down each finger and do it for both hands. It takes a few minutes and can be done anywhere at any time.
- Move or don’t move – if and when you feel uncomfortable during a sitting do you move or do you explore the uncomfortableness? I’m still working through this one but I’m on the ‘move’ side at the moment. I’ll explore the ‘explore’ side too in time!
- Deep breathing – breathing right down into your pelvis. Most people breathe into their chest but if you open up your throat and breathe past your chest and on into your tummy it delivers a much deeper breath – now try to imagine a diamond shape between your hip bones, pubic bone and coccyx – once you can imagine this diamond try breathing down into this area. It’s amazing!! It is such a different way of breathing and fantastic for pain management.
- Thoughts will come – my expectation was that I had to chase away any and all thoughts that came to my mind whilst I was sitting. I was delighted to learn that I shouldn’t chase them away or give out to myself for not ‘doing it properly’. Everyone has thoughts. My interpretation was that I need to recognise my thoughts as either the past or the future and then chose to concentrate on the present… and it works!
- Mindfulness in the mundane – You don’t need to ‘sit’ to practice. There is also informal practice available to us all throughout the day. You can practice mindfulness whilst in the shower, folding clothes, washing dishes or whilst walking – “Walk as if you are kissing the earth with your feet” Thich Nhat Hanh. My current favourite is when brushing my teeth… I pay attention to each tooth when brushing on the top, back and front and it’s a lovely experience for me and my teeth!
The timing of The Mindfulness Summit couldn’t have been better. I love to research areas that interest me and I have been presented with over 31 experts in the field to explore and learn from. I am sure Melli O’Brien will host another summit in the future so if you have any interest in mindfulness then don’t miss out!