Over the past few weeks we’ve been looking at some of my favourite ideas from SLOW, and I’ve left one of the biggest for last. Mindfulness.
Interestingly, I didn’t really know that the notion of mindfulness was facing a backlash until I started writing this book. It’s such a gentle idea that I couldn’t see how it could be misconstrued or misrepresented, until I started to recognised just how complicated it had become. And when I thought back to my own discovery of mindfulness I realised that I’d had no idea what it actually meant either.
What I do know is that mindfulness and living mindfully have changed my life. Not because of a specific app or a mindfulness colouring book, but because it has taught me to pay attention. Without it I would have missed out on so much depth and joy and life and love, and for that it is worthwhile pushing through the woo woo stereotype in order to introduce others to the simple beauty of paying attention.
In SLOW I wrote:
Mindfulness. Everyone’s tossing this buzzword around, lauding it as an incredible cure-all for stress and busy-ness, ill health and procrastination. We have apps and conferences, special colouring books, retreats and constant reminders popping up on social media of just how mindfully others are living. (Which begs the question: If a woman meditated on the beach but didn’t take a selfie, did it really happen?)
For years, mindfulness was a Big Idea I wasn’t nearly smart or evolved enough to understand, so I put it in the basket of woo that also held transcendental meditation, tarot reading and crystal bathing. It intimidated me; therefore it wasn’t valid.
The more I explored simplifying, though, the more I heard people espousing the benefits of living mindfully. But what did that mean? How could one live mind-fully? What did it look like to live mind-fully? What did it look like to live mind-fully? To be a mind-full person? I had no idea.
What I did understand, however, was mind-less living. And while I may not have been smart enough or enlightened enough to live mind-fully, mindlessness and I were on a first-name basis. In fact, we’d been intimate for a long time.
How do we bring mindfulness to our daily lives without over-complicating it? What does that look like? And how do we find the time for it when life is already full and busy?
In this poggie Ben and I talk through the ways we both add mindfulness to our days. For me it includes traditional practices such as meditation, yoga, deep breathing or body scans, as well as things that may not immediately strike you as mindful but that allow me to focus in and pay attention nonetheless. This might be barefoot bush walking, rock climbing and photography.
We encourage you to try adding a small pocket of mindfulness to your daily rhythm by setting an alarm once a day and giving yourself 5 minutes (1 minute, even) where you practice being entirely present. That might be a few minutes of deep breathing or a simple body scan technique, or it could be as simple as taking a moment to look around you and notice something you hadn’t noticed before. Look at the clouds or the grass, notice the pattern of light on the floor or the way your belly rises and falls with your breath. It doesn’t need to be complicated or difficult, and the benefits might affect a lot more than just those few minutes – it may just impact the rest of your day.
What things do you do to pay more attention in your daily life?Enjoy!