Learning the techniques of mindfulness has been a massive help to me in terms of living authentically. It is a tool that helps us to cultivate an awareness of what is happening around us that we perceive through our senses and within us (our thoughts, beliefs, feelings, energy and other bodily sensations) and how we respond and interact with these things. It also awakens us to the many beautiful things that we take for granted every day and allows us to connect with those things in a deeper way, to recognise that we have choices with how to respond to these. This is absolutely foundational in “knowing more” about ourselves and the world we live in and “saying less” by choosing our actions and where we put our energy and catching those thoughts that trip us up, ensuring that the choices we make are in line with who we are, what we believe, our true values.
I thought I would use this post to teach you the absolute basics to get you started but there is so much information about mindfulness available so check that out too if it is something that interests you.
Let’s Get Started!
The best way to learn mindfulness is to start with mindful breathing. A lot of the time, we are not using our breath (oxygen), to its’ fullest potential. Did you know that when there is ample oxygen circulating in our body, it restores cells, bringing life and energy into our body? It also helps to calm the mind. Definitely something that I encourage you to practice regularly! And as I said, doing so has changed my life dramatically.
Being mindful of our breathing allows us to understand the relationship between our thoughts, feelings, sensations and our breath. It can alert us to when things (either internal or external) have triggered us as when we are stressed or anxious, we breathe much quicker and our heart beats faster. This is part of the flight and fight response where our brain releases hormones like cortisol around the body, preparing our body for action. Too much cortisol is actually harmful to the body so learning to be mindful of our breathing and learning to do deep, diaphragmatic breathing (instructions below) to de-activate this and calm our body is a great tool to help to circulate more oxygen, calm the body and mind, provide overall health and reduce the levels of cortisol being released. So it’s imperative that you learn!
What I love about mindful breathing is that with every breath we take in, we are inhaling life and nourishment that our body needs and when we exhale, the body is getting rid of waste that becomes toxic if we did not let it go (true about so many things hey!). The air we exhale is carbon dioxide which is a vital gas for our planet, thus confirming the interrelationship that exists between us and the world around us. I also love that our breath is always with us so we can do this any time, any where.
Below is an 8 min recording which is an introduction to mindful breathing. Once you have attuned to your breath, you can do mindful breathing any time to read your bodily responses and to calm yourself or focus when you need to. It is a great stress relief. I recommend finding a quiet place to sit, closing your eyes, sitting up straight and listening to the recording with headphones so that it minimises outside distractions. After it finishes, allow yourself a couple more minutes of deep breathing in “silence” using the techniques and instructions in this recording. Allow your mind to wander if you choose to and notice what it does, then bring your attention back. Notice that you can choose where to put your attention. Let me know how you go with it in the comments or send an email via the contact page. Doing this regularly will not only breathe life to your body, but also awaken your awareness and raise your vibrations, giving you more control over where you put your energy and what you do on a daily basis.