Mindfulness can help protect your mental and emotional wellbeing and is something that everyone can develop, whether self-taught, via an app or in a group setting...
If you're feeling a bit zapped - welcome to the club. Juggling the endless demands of work, family, finances and a social life is no mean feat and can often lead to a chaotic and stressful lifestyle. With so much going on, it's easy to get caught up in future plans while worrying about what happened yesterday - leaving little time to dedicate to the right here and now.
Recently, an ever-increasing popular term seems to be the go-to antidote to stress, burnout, digital distractions and anxiety.
The magic word? Mindfulness.
No longer an activity regarded as 'new age' fluff, people are looking to mindfulness as a solution to solving their frenzied lives. And the best bit? Practicing mindfulness is so simple to incorporate into your daily life, it would be nonsensical to miss out on its life-changing benefits...
So what exactly is it?
Defined as 'the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something', mindfulness is maintaining an acute awareness of our thoughts, feelings and environment. It's concentrating on what's happening in the moment, without over-thinking, judging, or sweating the small stuff. Essentially, it's a way of paying attention that can help with how you cope with everyday life (and bounce back from testing times).
Mindfulness boasts great benefits for your physical and mental health and is proven to reduce stress and anxiety by focusing your mind and reducing the noise in your head.
It also helps if you find yourself in pressurised situations, and it certainly stamps out the contemporary craving to check your Smartphone for Facebook/Instagram/Twitter/ Snapchat notifications approximately every three minutes, 20 seconds.
And best of all, mindfulness isn't an art that takes decades to master - it's something that everyone can develop, whether self-taught, via an app or in a group setting. Granted, it takes some practice, but recognise that you can try it anytime and in any place. Once you master mindfulness, you will automatically fall into it, without much effort.
Remember - we all already have the innate capacity to be present, it certainly doesn’t call for us to change who we are.
Starting your mindful practice
Focus on your breath
Your breathing is the easiest (and most useful!) place to start. While you're learning, choose a quiet, comfortable place. Sit or stand and just breathe naturally without concentrating on your inhalations or exhalations.
Just relax and focus on the sensations in your body, with emphasis on your stomach and chest. Don't beat yourself up if you lose your state - the human mind is designed to wander. Just gently bring your attention back to your breathing if you find your awareness roaming elsewhere.
Paying close attention to everyday activities is the perfect way to practice mindfulness. Bringing a 'here and now' awareness to menial tasks is what strengthens your ability to live in the present moment. For example, when you go for a walk, observe the smells around you, the leaves, the grass, the trees, the way the road looks.
Look around you, at everything. Are the people you're observing happy or sad? Notice the train carriage you're sat in - is it clean? Vandalised? The colours, materials, smells. Observe with all your senses.
One, Two, Step
Paying attention to the way you walk is a great way to practice mindfulness. Being aware of each step - your heel hitting the ground, the way the surface feels under your foot, and the way you push off with your toes - brings a great internal focus to something so simple.
Mindful walking can be practiced anywhere, although while you're learning it may be more useful to opt for a solitary walk amongst nature over a more crowded place.
Apply your mindful focus
Be aware of your mental state throughout the day. If for example, you notice you're becoming stressed, spend a few moments in mindful breathing. Acknowledge your anxiety and where it's appeared from, rather than rushing to push your uneasy thoughts away.
Very few people nowadays listen to understand
- they normally listen to respond.
Next time you're having a conversation, pay attention to the way you're listening to the person speaking. Are you waiting for them to pause, so you can interject? Or even worse, do you not even wait for them to finish, and talk over them anyway?
Being a great listener is a lost art, and mindful listening is the essence of receptivity. Let a conversation flow by allowing another person to express themselves without interrupting or judging.
Journey to nowhere
It's a given - your daily commute can cause endless amounts of stress and frustration, which is why applying mindfulness to your journey can make it far less frenzied.
First of all, slow things down - which means leaving adequate time to get from door to door. (It's probably best to break off the love affair with your snooze button in these circumstances!) When you aren't rushing you're able to notice your walking and breathing patterns more willingly. Taking note of your surroundings is also easier.
Also - if you're a fan of headphones while you're travelling from A to B, take them off to avoid your mind wandering. While it's nice to get lost in song, mindfulness calls for total focus on the present moment.
Recommended Spa Specials:
To aid you on your mindfulness journey, check out the following treatments offered across Spa Experience locations.
La Sultane De Saba Head in the Clouds, only £25 (RRP from £30 - £38)
This ritual treatment is a dreamy delight, which encapsulates relaxation and calm. It incorporates scalp, shoulder and face massage to comfort the mind, body and soul. Stresses and strains melt away and tired heads and muscles are soothed. The treatment is completed with a rejuvenating and lifting facial massage.
Thermal Spa Experience, from £11 - £26
Whether you want to invigorate your body, find some peace of mind or simply a relaxing place to do some soul-searching, the Thermal Spa Experience allows you to focus on what is important to you. Become more motivated and productive with the knowledge that you are taking care of yourself.
Tasha - resident Spa Experience blogger.