Learning meditation and mindfulness is like waking through a forest – when you start it can feel hard, there’s no path, everything’s in the way, and you want to give up. Eventually if you keep walking that path it becomes easier and easier…
In the same way, with the business of our world today, it can feel hard to slow down and be present. Sometimes it’s hard to even know where to start – but we’ve got the answer!
Essentially meditation and mindfulness are about training your brain. If you didn’t train your dog it wouldn’t do what you want, our mind is the same! Left to it’s own devices our mind naturally looks for danger in order to keep us safe, but that can mean that we constantly live in a state of stress and fear. So instead, we train the mind to stop wondering off. If it wonders off to the future that can lead to anxiety, if it wonders off to the past that can lead to depression. Instead, we use our senses to tune into THIS moment, the only moment that exists!
To do that, we have to tune into our senses… we have to consciously tune into what we can feel, what we can hear, what we can see, what we can taste, what we can smell and this really helps the mind stay present. We can do this as we go about our daily life which is mindfulness, or we can sit and actively focus on this which is meditation.
So mindful eating means… Seeing your food, colours, shapes, texturesFeeling your food, temperature, size, textureTasting your food, sweetness, sharpness, zingynessHearing your food, clicks, pops, cracklesSmelling your food, flavours, spices.
Mindful walking could be… Seeing your surroundings, colours, shapes, textures (details on the pavements, of the trees, the sky, the animals)Feeling the elements, texture of the ground beneath each foot as you tread, breeze on your skin, wind in your hair, rain on your cheeks, dew drops on the leaves, sun on your face.Tasting the air, flavours in your mouth Hearing the sounds around you, close to you, your breath, your body, and beyond, the leaves in the breeze, the trains, the cars, how far away can you take your listening? Smelling your surroundings, coffee from the shop, baking from the bakery, cut grass in the fields, fresh water in the stream…
* Top tip: Try to remove labels (e.g. I do or don’t like X…) and instead just tune into the quality of each element, to give you brain a break from thinking and emotion, and instead connect with your body and your senses. You could even practice this doing the dishes… see the bubbles, shapes, feel the water, hear the sounds etc! Anytime, anywhere, we can practice.