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5 tips for a big difference to your mindfulness practice

I’ll share with you 5 easy tips that’ll make a big difference to your mindfulness practice (or lack of!).

You’re overwhelmed.

You want to feel less stressed out and enjoy more of your life, but it’s just not happening as simply as you’d hoped.

You’re exhausted, you have kids to take to all their extra-curricular activities on top of work stuff accumulating. Or on the other end, work is completely drying up and it’s worrying you, with all these bills piling up.

You have no time for your friends. You feel disconnected from your partner. Your head is full of the things you have not done or wish you could do.

You just wish you had an easy button you could push to stop this spiral of constantly chasing your tail and never feeling good about anything.

You know that mindfulness or yoga is a great move in these kind of circumstances. But it feels like one more thing to add to the list of things to do. You have no time and no energy. It’s too much. And in any case, you don’t even know where to start.

I do. And I can help.

One of the best mindfulness tips I wish everyone who is feeling overwhelmed knew, is that mindfulness (and yoga and all these mind-body health practices) is not something you DO. It’s first and foremost something you ARE.

You don’t need to find more time in an already overbooked schedule.

What you need to feel less overwhelmed is already right here in front of you. But the truth is, it’s kind of hard to see something when you don’t even know it’s there.

But you see, actions come from thoughts, and thoughts come from feelings.

If you feel overwhelmed, you will unconsciously trickle a series of actions that lead to more overwhelm. Because that’s how your mind works: it prioritises what you think about the most. And it doesn’t prioritise it by giving you solutions to what you worry about. What it does is give you more of the same. Stressing about not having enough money or not enough time? All your mind will focus on is the lack you are prioritising on by thinking about it all the time. All the opportunities for abundance will be invisible… until you decide to make them visible, by thinking about the abundance that is already there. And the invisible made visible is essentially the result of the practice of mindfulness.

So how do you shift from a mind full of thoughts of lack to a mind full of thoughts of abundance?

How do you go from stressed to relaxed without cramming in yet another app or another class, or another walk in the forest?

Follow these 5 simple mindfulness tips to begin making a big difference to your mindfulness practice:

Mindfulness Tip #1: What you appreciate, appreciates.

Make a list of things you appreciate. Everyday. To begin with, you might struggle to find enough things to write down, especially if you have been feeling low for a while. So start small. Start with things like: “I appreciate the colour of this rug”. Or “I appreciate the fact that I live so close to the park.” Etc… with practice and persistence, you’ll begin to notice more things you are appreciative of. Make this appreciation list the foundation block of your day. Keep it brief, to maybe 4 or 5 things only. But do it daily and without fail.

Good to know: You don’t need dedicated time to do this list. You can do it in the car while you drive, you can do it on your bike, you can do while you are cooking dinner. You don’t need extra time. It helps to write ti down but it’s enough to do it in your head. The important thing is to notice what you appreciate.

Mindfulness Tip #2: Give your mind something to rest on.

Literally. If you mind is out of breath, constantly running from one negative thoughts to the next, you need to give it a break. Give it something it can lean on for just a moment. The same way you would lean on a wall or a tree after running for the bus or after the kids, your mind needs a physical and tangible entity to rest on. It could be the sound of running water, or the gentle hum of the fridge, or the rain water dripping on a ledge. Or it could be the sight or feeling of something rhythmical, like the rise and fall of your hand placed on your belly, or the soft breathing of your sleeping baby, or even pet!

Good to know: Wherever you are, in the shower, at the office, outside, find a single sound to concentrate on for 20 seconds or so. This will create a laser beam of pure focus, and your mind will naturally become still. As you become better at isolating a sound within your surroundings, try extending the duration of your focus.

Mindfulness Tip #3: Reach for the next best thing.

Identify how you feel and ask yourself: how do I want to feel instead? Pay careful attention to the gap you are creating though. Wanting to go from depressed to elated is setting yourself up for disappointment when it doesn’t happen, because it’s too much of difference. Start with the next best thing.

Good to know: Think about it as you trying to put a basketball through the hoop. Start close, and then move further away. If you start too far back, you will miss every shot. But of you start closer to your current state of mind, you’ll score 3 or 4 out of 5, and that will build your confidence.

Mindfulness Tip #4: The “What would you say to a friend?’ technique.

I used to hate myself whenever I left my house in the morning to go to work and the kitchen was not as tidied as I wished it were (i.e with dirty dishes in the sink). Someone taught me to ask myself what I would say to a friend in the same situation if I came round to her house and saw dirty dishes in the sink.

I would say/think: “She’s busy. She’s a single mum, two kids, with a tiring job looking after others. She’s busy.”

Yet what I was saying to myself was: “You’re lazy! How can you live with yourself!”

I was SO mean to myself. And this fed a never ending circle of negativity. I would NEVER give myself a break.

Now, I have became that best friend and say to myself when I sense the negative chat rising: “You’re so busy. It’s ok. It can wait until you have a little more time and energy.”

Good to know: It’s a great technique to also use with kids when they are upset about something at school. It helps them develop kindness and compassion for themselves.

Mindfulness Tip #5: Feed the fire.

This is going to be a little counterintuitive at first, as we live in a society where reward usually comes after effort. But when it comes to self-care and mindfulness, it doesn’t always work that way round. In fact, more often that not, self-care ought to come first. Self-care is not a reward. It’s the foundation of the rest of your life. It’s what gives YOU so you can give others. Not prioritising self-care is like expecting a fire to radiate heat without giving first it fuel to burn. It simply doesn’t work that way. Feed your fire!

Good to know: Create a big list of fire-feeder activities – things you love doing – to refer to in time of need. Ideally, you want a mixture of things that are readily available (putting some music on or your favourite outfit) and others that require a little more planning (going to the cinema).

Another tip is for each family member to do a list and compare them after. Chances are that there will be overlaps and you’ll have a few activities that you can do together that tick all your soothing boxes. Families report that going to Scapa Fest is a definite go-to on their fire-feeding list as a family.

Takeaway from our mindfulness tips? You don’t need more time to begin making a difference to how you feel. Apply these 5 mindfulness tips to what you are already doing and you’ll quickly see a big difference with your mindfulness practice. Our mind likes consistency. 5mins daily is better than 1h weekly. And let’s face it, you have enough to do as it is. And remember: you are doing so well already!

Got other mindfulness tips you’d like to share with your community? Send them my way at scapafest@gmail.com

Posted in Wellbeing, Yoga.

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