Saturday 12th September is International Mindfulness Day. Yes that’s actually a thing – I’m not pulling your leg. International Mindfulness Day was created in 2017 with the intent of promoting awareness around what mindfulness is all about and its benefits. So whether you are ‘all mindful like’ already, or have no clue about what this mindfulness malarkey is about, or somewhere in between, why not use this as an excuse to lean in a bit closer to find out more and spend some moments looking at how you can be more mindful in your day to day life. DEFINITION OF MINDFULNESS Mindfulness is basically the ability to be present and pay attention on purpose, to whats happening RIGHT NOW, this moment, in the body and mind, with some openness and friendly curiosity and without judgement, or at least noticing when those judgements (that we all) have arise. Sounds simple, but in this fast paced world of distractions, expectations, comparisons, stressors and challenges, it is often far from easy. EVERY SINGLE MOMENT IS AN OPPORTUNITY TO BE MINDFUL If you find yourself rushed, stressed, anxious, busy, tired, overloaded, in pain, feeling meh, confused, uncertain and much more than having a bit more mindfulness in your life is for you. Actually if you’re human it’s for you. So why not use this day to look at how you can bring a little more mindfulness into your oh so precious life. If you’ve tried before and feel you’ve failed then stop right there – there is not failure in this. Every time you attempt to be present, to notice your thoughts, to savour the moment, to feel into what’s going on, to experience what’s happening RIGHT NOW – that my friend is a moment of mindfulness. Even if it’s a nano second, even if your mind wanders a gazillion times, every single moment is a moment to start again and an opportunity to be mindful. 10 WAYS TO BUILD MINDFULNESS INTO YOUR DAY Before you read on though, just in case you’re wavering, note that you DO NOT have to be Yoda to try this mindfulness business. The beauty of this practice (and it is a practice) is it’s available to anyone, anytime and anywhere. So read on a few ideas of how to integrate mindfulness into your day. Rest in the breath – as the great thing about the breath is that it’s always with us and available as a beautiful resting place for our awareness and attention. Every now and then through the day take a moment to notice the sensations of the breath coming in and out of the body. How do you know you’re breathing? What does that feel like? Where do you notice it in the body? Savour a meal or cuppa – because how often have you bolted down your food or guzzled your cuppa without really tasting it. Choose a meal, snack or even a drink that you really savour. For me it’s my first coffee of the day. Mmmm. Slow it down, chew or sip much slower than usual, notice the taste, the temperature, the smell, the texture. It could be the best taste sensation you experience that day. STOP regularly – or if it makes it easier I could say pause. Take some time in your day to STOP and notice what’s going on for you in your body and mind. TAKE A BREATH OR TWO, noticing the breath as it passes through the body. Then OBSERVE what’s going on mentally and physically for you. What thoughts and emotions are there? Are there any points of tension in the body? Then maybe see how this extra information you’ve tapped into, can guide you forward as you PROCEED with rest of your day. Here is a simple 5 min STOP practice I’ve recorded that guides you through this process. Take a pleasure walk – have you ever tried this? Sounds a bit ‘out there’ but it isn’t really. All you need to do is go for a walk, preferably in nature but to be honest anywhere works. The important thing is it’s not about the destination it’s about the process. Go out and wander and really pay attention to what’s around you. What draws your attention, it could be some birds (I have a fascination with fantails – true story), or something in the view in the distance, it could be something of beauty or just something weird or interesting, or something you’ve not noticed before as you’ve been head down bum up on a mission to get somewhere. Listen carefully – to those around you that are trying to communicate with you. Particularly those that are important to you, because around 60 to 70% of communication is about listening only we often aren’t. Not really. Instead we are often thinking about what we are going to say next, or how it might be responded to by others, or ruminating what we just said, and in the process we aren’t really hearing what the other person is saying to us. We miss stuff, important stuff, their body language as they say it and all the little nuances that help build intimacy and connection with others. Give yourself space – something that is a precious resources in our busy lives or so it seems. Look at making some space in your day to practice any or all of the above but also to simply BE. This is not wasted time, it is an investment in your very being. Be kind – both to others but also and importantly to yourself, as when you bring it in you can give it out more authentically and naturally. Notice your thoughts, words and actions – are they kind? If they aren’t then try not to beat yourself up and judge – instead inquire into why that may be so and bring a little softening to yourself and others, a little more friendliness and a little more kindness and compassion – in what ever way that looks like for you. Focus on gratitude – no matter how cruddy life can seem, or how much crap it can throw at us (and you’ve probably faced more than usual this year unless you’ve been hiding in a cave) despite all the unpleasantness there is usually something we can find to be grateful for. Our brain loves to focus on the negative, so much there is a name for it ‘negativity bias’. So how about we stand up to that negativity bias, by focusing on what there is to be grateful for right now – no matter how small or seemingly insignificant. The more we focus on what there is to be grateful for, the more we begin to notice the parts of our lives there is to be grateful for. It’s self perpetuating. Find mindfulness in the mundane – select an everyday task like brushing your teeth, taking a shower, folding the washing, it could be anything and really be in that experience and take it in. Really pay attention, if your mind wanders (and it will) bring it back to the task in hand, just keep bringing it back. What do you notice? Sit and meditate – it doesn’t have to be for ages, just a few minutes but see if you can take that formal time. If your mind is like a cat on a hot tin roof then no bother – all part of it. Just sit and be with whatever is there and keep bringing your attention back to you body, or your breath or maybe sounds in the room. Notice the ever changing nature of things in the process. So there you have 10 ways to get you started on building mindfulness in your day to day life. There is no better time to start than this moment – right now – it’s really the only moment that truly exists.