13 Apr Finding Calm in the Chaos – Simple Tips for Practicing Mindfulness
By Claire Suzanne Borg
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we work, the way we interact with each other, and our routines.
This sudden and imposed change in lifestyle is having a negative impact on many people on a personal, relational and professional level. One common consequence is an increase in feelings of worry and anxiety as we do our best to survive and thrive in the current environment. In this context, practicing mindfulness may be a valuable source of mental wellbeing. The good news is that to practice mindfulness and derive its benefits you do not have to be a master of meditation. This short article will show how mindfulness can be practiced by anyone, anywhere, anytime.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness consists of the ability to be fully present in the moment, often referred to as “being in the here-and-now”. It is estimated that on average individuals spend 47% of their time “mind-wandering”. Essentially this means that our thoughts are detached from what we are doing in the moment. Mind-wandering is associated with feelings of distress and unhappiness, especially when thoughts gravitate towards worry and rumination.
By practicing mindfulness, you can train yourself to focus your attention to the present moment. Being present means that your thoughts and feelings are connected to the here-and-now rather than wandering all over. Doing this on a regular basis will help you become calmer in everything you do.
There are several ways of practicing mindfulness. One very practical approach is referred to as multisensory awareness. This consists of intentionally directing our attention to your five senses – touch, sight, smell, hearing and taste. The organs associated with each sense sends messages to the brain to help you understand all the information coming from the environment as it is occurring in the moment.
By training yourself to focus on the five senses as they occur in the moment you will be able to become present and grounded. By practicing this simple technique over a period of time, you will find that you will become more able to focus on the present rather than overthink or worry about things that happened in the past or events that may happen in the future. This practice also has a calming effect on the mind. The following is a practical example of how you can practice multisensory awareness in whatever situation you are in.
Take a few quiet moments for yourself where you can be uninterrupted for a few minutes. Sit still and become aware of your breathing.
Touch – what physical sensations are you experiencing in this moment. If you are sitting down, how does the chair feel against your back? How does it feel to have your feet on the ground?
Sight – what do you see when you look around you? Are there any details you may not have noticed?
Smell – what smells can you notice in the moment? Can you identify specific smells coming from your immediate environment?
Hearing – close your eyes for a moment and listen closely. What can you hear? Are there any noises that you were not paying attention to?
Taste – what taste do you have in your mouth? Did you just have a coffee, breakfast, a glass of water? What can you taste?
A simple exercise like this can be a good start in practicing mindfulness. However, there are other ways you can be mindful. These include mindfulness meditation, where the breath is used as an anchor to focus on for a few minutes. Body scans, visual imagery relaxation, mindful eating and mindful walking are other mindfulness techniques you can learn and adopt. You can practice mindfulness in everything you do. It is all about bringing your mind to where your body is, in other words, the present moment.
Does mindfulness work?
Research shows that stress can make it harder to be mindful. However, just ten minutes of practice a day can give you greater focus and clarity. It will also have a calming effect on your brain resulting in decreased levels of stress and anxiety and increased effectiveness. In times like these, where such negative emotions tend to be heightened, practicing mindfulness while working or going about daily life can be a very important contributor to safeguarding and enhancing your wellbeing. In fact, businesses across the world are supporting and promoting mindfulness practice as part of their corporate culture. This is because it not only boosts employees’ physical and psychological health but also enables them to be more resilient and productive in the long-term.
Further support and help
Contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about how we can assist you in starting your mindfulness journey or introduce mindfulness to your organisation.