“The practice of mindfulness is very simple. You stop, you breathe, and you still your mind. You come home to yourself so that you can enjoy the here and now in every moment.”
Thich Nhat Hanh
Mindfulness is awareness. In this moment, now.
Mindfulness is about waking up to what’s actually happening, noticing the thoughts our mind is generating, tuning into our feelings, connecting with our body. Becoming present.
When we’re fully present, we’re fully alive. We see things as they are. We don’t replay past regrets, nor do we worry about the future. We appreciate what is and we find peace in it.
Mindfulness is a practice that needs practice. Below are a few ways of practising what we teach on our retreats.
The practice of sitting meditation is taking a few minutes a day to sit quietly and observe your breath. After a while you can build on that by tuning into your body and releasing any tension. Or by tuning into your senses, listening to the sounds around you, smelling the smells, touching, seeing, tasting… noticing any thoughts and feelings that might arise. And accepting everything just as it is. Sitting meditation helps us see more clearly what really matters.
We can also do all this while walking – or running, cycling, snowshoeing, skiing – in nature. Here in the mountains, we practise breathing in the sights, sounds and smells of the mountains, meadows, waterfalls, rivers and streams around us. We practise shifting our awareness from the inside out, and from the outside in, until it’s as if our inner and outer landscape are one. Mindful walking in nature helps us see the big picture of life.
Imagine looking at a plate or bowl of food and, before even lifting your utensil, you take a moment to really look at it, to ponder everything that was needed to create this meal – from seed planting to cultivating to purchasing to preparing to cooking – and all the people involved in the process. Imagine taking a moment to give thanks. And as you take your first mouthful, allow it to be in your mouth for a moment before chewing – slowly – and swallowing. Savour the flavours and textures. Notice how your body changes as you eat. When you’ve eaten enough, stop. This is mindful eating. It helps connect you more deeply with a feeling of true nourishment.
Creating moments of calm every day
A moment of calm is a moment of mindfulness – and vice versa. To create more moments of calm in our everyday lives we need to learn how to pause, step back and breathe. Pausing helps us shift from reacting unconsciously to responding on purpose. It gives us the chance to notice ourselves being triggered into reacting in a way we might later regret. Over time, with practice, pausing enables us to develop a way of responding which serves us and others better. Pausing helps us realise that life is a continual practice.
Find out more on mindfulness, pausing and leadership.