‘Minding’ Your Own Attention

We’ve had a bit of time this year for self-care and to focus on wellbeing. Exfoliation, manicures, pedicures, teeth-whitening, hair masks, running, a new-found love of bicycle riding, online yoga – you’ve probably tried most of it, if not all. ANYthing to get through the monotony of the looooong days in lockdown, right? However, when things return to the ‘new’ normal, when borders reopen and hand sanitiser is no longer considered liquid gold, it’s unlikely we’ll have as much time to be so self and inwardly-focused. But one wellness activity you should try and sustain, beyond this period, and forever, is ‘mindfulness’. And if you’ve no idea what that even means – allow us 3 minutes to ‘sell’ it to you. It might even (read: is likely to) change your life…

The Greater Good Science Centre at the University of California defines mindfulness as the practice of “maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment, through a gentle, nurturing lens.” They go on to expand that it also involves “acceptance, meaning that we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings without judging them—without believing, for instance, that there’s a “right” or “wrong” way to think or feel in a given moment.” So, what’s the practical application of this? What are they takeaways and why is it so important?

Mindfulness means doing one thing, at one time, and handing over your five senses completely to that one thing. Embracing the moment, and nothing else. So, quick question – is this blog the 4th of 11 tabs you’ve got open? Yes? So; that’s not mindfulness. What about quietly typing an email whilst reviewing your online order update, during a work video call, whilst trying to nod your head in all of the appropriate places to affirm your interest and dedication to the team? Yeah? Also not mindfulness.

So why all the fuss? What are the rewards of mindfulness? Positivepsychology.com cites that longitudinal research has found that practising mindfulness has 5 core benefits, including; overall improvement in general health (blood pressure, depression, anxiety, reductions in alcohol consumption, and an increase in physical activity); decrease in symptoms of depression; decrease in stress; increase in ability to deal with illness, and increased facilitation in illness recovery. This is all pretty phenomenal. I.e. If you are fortunate enough to be in optimum health – can you just IMAGINE the benefits you’re likely to achieve from employing this ‘be in the moment / don’t get distracted’ approach?

This, complemented with the knowledge that multi-tasking achieves little-to-nothing done well, would suggest that mindfulness might be something worthwhile employing in your day-to-day. Focusing on the moment, on the task at hand will reap many rewards, improved physical health and mental wellbeing. Significant reward for doing just one thing at a time! How easy does that sound?

What’s do you think will become your favourite mindfulness activity? How do you feel after employing mindfulness in your day?