For some, the term “mindfulness” brings up images of sitting cross-legged in the woods, silent, for hours at a time. There is often an assumption that to be mindful means to be happy, and that this practice will get rid of negative or uncomfortable feelings. I also hear people say that they don’t have time to incorporate mindfulness into their day-to-day lives. I hope to address these misconceptions and explore how mindfulness can be incorporated into your life – even if that means ten minutes of practice a day.
Sitting Cross-Legged in the Woods
Mindfulness is a conscious awareness of the present moment, whatever that moment may be. It involves paying attention to your thoughts and feelings without judgement and gently bringing yourself back to the present. It also means noticing your bodily sensations and the environment around you. We find lots of ways to be mindful in EFW sessions – from paying attention to the sounds, sights and smells of the farm to exploring the different textures on a horse’s body. Mindfulness can be done anytime, anywhere (not just in the woods).
Being Mindful = Being Happy
Being mindful invites us to be aware of our feelings – all of our feelings. This can make mindfulness challenging at times because there are some feelings we may find uncomfortable or actively avoid. Mindfulness involves gently acknowledging our feelings (e.g. sad, angry, agitated, worried, anxious or ashamed) without judgement. Accepting our feelings without labeling them good or bad and allowing ourselves to feel our feelings can lead to better mental health and wellness.
I Don’t Have Time For This!
Even ten minutes of mindfulness practice a day can lead to feeling more grounded, connected and calm. As I mentioned above mindfulness can be challenging, particularly at first. Start with small chunks of time and gradually increase. With practice, it does get easier!
Here are some ideas for incorporating mindfulness into your day:
- Sit in your backyard and notice the sounds (e.g. birds, cars on the street), smells (e.g. grass, cooking smells from other houses), sights (e.g. branches moving in the wind, birds flying) and sensations (e.g. cool breeze on your skin, the feeling of your body against the chair you are sitting in).
- When you are washing the dishes pay attention to the heat of the water, the smell of the soap and the feel of dishes in your hands. If your mind wanders, gently bring your attention back to your task.
- In the shower, notice the feeling of the water on your body, the sound of the water and the smell of your shampoo and soap.
- Eat – mindfully! Pay attention to the smell of your food and the taste of the food in your mouth.
- Remember – mindfulness takes practice. Let go of judgements and don’t be too hard on yourself as you carve some time out of your day to be intentionally present.