The Art of Mindfulness - Guest post by Natalie Rossiter
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the practice of being in the present moment; becoming aware of your thoughts, feelings and sensations as they arise and acknowledging them without judgement. Simple, but not always easy!
Mindfulness vs mediation
A lot of people, understandably, get confused about the difference. Meditation is the act of sitting (usually) and bringing your attention to a chosen focus, such as the breath. There are lots of different styles of meditation. Mindfulness is about being present whatever you are doing; meditating, walking, working, cooking etc. We practice the skills of awareness, acceptance, compassion and non-judgement in meditation so we can take them out with us to the rest of our lives.
Why do we need to be mindful?
If we’re always thinking about the past or worrying about the future, what happens to the present moment? We never really experience it. We are lost in our thoughts, not truly alive to the here and now. I think mindfulness is essential in times of uncertainty and turbulence because it gives us skills to ground ourselves in out present moment experience, find calm and be kind to ourselves when we are struggling.
How do we become more mindful?
We can do this in lots of different ways, and it’s important to build a practice that actually works for you in your life. It’d be ironic if ‘be mindful’ became another chore on the ‘to do’ list!
You can become more mindful by practicing meditation – do a course or use an app like Buddhify, Calm or Insight Timer. Or you could read a book on the topic – there are many to choose from.
I teach and practice ‘Mindfulness for Modern Life’, which is really about being present in our everyday experiences. You can be mindful while walking the dog, playing with your children or even standing in the queue at Aldi. Whatever you are doing you can notice how you feel, pay attention to sounds, textures, colours etc and let the moment be exactly as it is. Let yourself be exactly as you are in that moment too. You can also learn to notice your thoughts and emotions without getting caught up in them; being a curious and compassionate observer to your experience.
A great way to be mindful is to do something creative. Painting, knitting, baking, doodling, making pottery, crafting… all these things are great for the stressed or worried mind because it gives you a positive focus; you have to be present to what you are doing. If you want to give this a try, here are some tips:
Choose a creative activity that you enjoy
Let go of any rigid expectations about what you are going to make – the focus here is on the process, not just the end result
As you create, pay attention to what you can see e.g. the colours spreading across the page
Notice the sounds this activity might make; pencil on paper, stirring of cake batter, clicking of knitting needles
Feel the motions of your body making this artwork and enjoy any textures you come into contact with
When you notice that your mind has wandered off your task, bring it back to what you are doing without being critical of yourself. It’s perfectly normal to get distracted. If you lose your focus 50 times, and notice 50 times, then that’s 50 times you’ve been mindful!
Watch out for judgemental thoughts about what you are creating. You can observe them and be curious about where they came from, but you don’t have to believe them. Try thinking something kind about yourself instead and notice how that feels.
You can find out more about Mindfulness here: https://www.natalierossiterwellbeing.co.uk/
And you can connect with Natalie here: @natalierossiterwellbeing (Instagram)
I want to say a huge thank you to Natalie for writing this very important guest post for me. 2020 is proving to be a very difficult year for many, many people with the threat of pandamic, job losses and recession. During times like these it is more important than ever to think about your mental health. Mindfulness is a fantastic way to clear your mind and feel a little better. Art is a brilliant way to express yourself and to stay mindful. This post will be followed up later this week by a video featuring myself and Natalie with some mindfulness exercises to try, including a variety of art exercises - keep an eye out for the video update coming soon. Stay safe, and remember if you are struggling to speak to someone you trust about how you are feeling - Megan Elizabeth