If you’re yet to jump on the of-the-moment (or in-the-moment) trend of being mindful, we’re guessing it’s because you’ve dismissed it as being about giving up your pleasures and sitting cross-legged on a cushion chanting ‘om’.
Not. The. Case.
Mindfulness is about your life (chocolate bar, glass of shiraz and all) and learning to be awake in every moment of it – and it needn’t put further demands on your already hectic schedule. It can be as simple as just being more present in your day-to-day experiences and learning to turf that niggling judgement of yourself or others.
Author, coach and mindfulness teacher Kate James shows us how to get started with these three simple tips. No ‘om’s about it.
1. Tune in to your body
This is particularly useful if you’re someone caught up in yo-yo dieting or feeling guilty every time you eat something ‘bad’.
Listen to your body and it will tell you what you need more (or less) of. It will also remind you that a few squares of chocolate or a couple of glasses of wine with a meal won’t do you any harm.
In most cases, the stress created by beating yourself up over food could do more harm than what you put in your mouth. Your mental wellbeing and inner calm are also important aspects of your health. Make friends with food, give yourself permission to savour the flavours you love and make it your mission to discover foods that are nourishing and nurturing at the same time. Most important is that you start by being kind to yourself, which is why the next step is essential.
2. Judge yourself less harshly
Tune in to the chatter inside your mind and notice how often it has a negative bias.
It’s likely that you’ll become aware of many judgements about yourself, about others and about how things should be. You may also become aware that the judgements can make you feel worse than the situation itself.
Watch your thoughts from the place of a friendly observer. Be curious and open-minded about what goes on inside your mind. Try saying to yourself “that’s interesting” and as best you can, don’t judge.
3. Let go of what you can’t change and make your plans with purpose
Regardless of how well we plan, life is going to be unpredictable and at times, disappointing.
Look for the lessons when things don’t pan out as you’d hoped and consider what you’d do differently next time, but don’t spend forever ruminating on a lost opportunity. Living mindfully means making room for uncertainty and allowing things to unfold in their own way.
Take some time to discover your purpose before you make your next move and seek inspiration from people who are already living purposeful lives. People who know their purpose (the reason why they’re doing what they’re doing) feel more deeply connected to their goals.
Kate James is coach, mindfulness teacher and retreat facilitator with 14 years’ experience working with people who want to live mindful and meaningful lives. She is the author Believe in Yourself & Do What You Love and Be Mindful & Simplify Your Life. totalbalance.com.au