How To Become More Mindful In Just Three Minutes
The average person’s mind wanders 49.6 per cent of the time found a 2010 study published in journal Study. It’s no wonder then that many find it challenging to stay focused on any given task at hand.
Further worsening the problem is our attachment to our phones. Every ping, buzz and beep has our mind racing between checking emails, Facebook, Instagram, and texts, all while still trying to concentrate on another task.
Sound familiar? Fortunately, there is a way around it, and it’s not at all hard to adopt. It’s mindfulness.
Research has shown practicing it a mere 10 minutes a day will do wonders to aid concentration, reduce stress, and lead to greater happiness. It can also help protect the brain from age-related damage. Not addressing these issues can contribute to the development of anxiety or depression, and can increase the risk of injury, fatigue and burnout.
“Over time, it becomes like an inner coach who points out behaviours, thoughts, or actions that are at odds with your goals or values. With mindfulness you are more able to stay on task.”
Like physical exercise, mindfulness is a form of training. The more we practise it, the stronger the mind becomes at being focused. “It’s often described as the practice of bringing your full attention – in an open, non-judgmental way – to the present moment,” she says.
“If our minds are planning or worrying about the future, or reflecting on the past, we miss the place where life is actually happening here, in this moment. When the mind gets caught up in loops about the future or the past, we increase stress, which over time has a corrosive effect on our mental and physical wellbeing.”
Bialylew says practising mindfulness is much easier than most people think. She recommends choosing something that you do regularly each day and turn it into a mindful activity, which can be a helpful way to remember to practise mindfulness.
Below, some examples:
The breath is a powerful indicator of our stress levels. When we’re stressed the breath is drawn from our chest, and becomes short and shallow, but when we focus on how we take a breath it can bring the body to balance.
“Take time during the day to tune into your breath,” says Bialylew.
“Notice where you feel the breath. Is it in the chest or belly? Take three deep breaths and allow each inhalation and exhalation to be slower and longer than normal. Notice how this changes how you feel.”
One of our everyday failings is that we don’t eat properly, not in the sense that we’re eating unhealthy food, but that we don’t chew our food properly and end up overeating.
“To eat mindfully, decide you are going to make eating your sole focus. Notice the food on your plate, pay attention to colours, shapes and smells,” Bialylew advises.
“Bring your awareness to the sensation of chewing and the flavours, textures and temperature in your mouth. Notice any urge to eat quickly or swallow your food without chewing it completely. Be aware of your attention getting hijacked from the experience of eating and gently bring it back to the flavour of the food.”
Taking baths are often viewed as a way to enjoy a bit of ‘me time’, but that’s not to say a shower can offer the same experience. Bialylew suggests being mindful when showering, so you completely immerse yourself in the experience.
“Tune in to the sensations of water and temperature on your skin. Notice when your mind wanders off and gently bring it back to the sensations of your body,” she says.
Waiting in queues or traffic
Waiting in a queue or being stuck in traffic can often be a frustrating experience. However, Bialylew says these experiences are opportunities to practice mindfulness and a way to check in with your own feelings of irritation and impatience, and to let go of that tension.
“Be mindful by tuning into your body. Sense your feet on the ground and scan the body for any tension that might be present,” she says.
On social media
Social media can be a time-wasting hazard as we mindlessly scroll through the feed and lose touch with the amount of time we spend on it.
Bialylew’s tip is to be mindful and conscious about the intention of how long you plan to spend scrolling before you log on, and then think about the impact social media has on your emotional state when you do use it.
“Does it make you feel good, bad, bored, interested? By tuning in to the impact of activities mindfully, we can start to make more conscious decisions which support our wellbeing,” she says.
(Lead image: Simon Migaj / Unsplash)
Published 17 May, 2019