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Health, Fitness and … Mindfulness

Beautiful woman enjoying sunshine (sun, tan, portrait)We all know how important staying fit and healthy are. How they both play an influential role in how energetic, enthusiastic, positive, motivated and alive we feel.

But what about being mindful? How mindful are you in your day-to-day life?

Think about this – when was the last time you left home, went to work, got to your desk but couldn’t actually remember your entire journey?

Or opening a bag of crisps only to discover the next minute you’re looking at an empty packet?

Or spending ten minutes listening to someone speak (at a conference, on TV, in a café) but having no recollection of what they said?

If so, you’re not alone.

Here you’re being mindless. Functioning on auto-pilot.

Mindfulness is about living in the present. Mindlessness is not.

Many people go through life thinking about something that happened in the bar last night, the failed client pitch last week, the argument with their other half before they left for work this morning, the meeting with the big boss that afternoon, what they’re going to cook for dinner that evening, where there next holiday will be, or how to get a relationship back on track …

None of these are examples of living in the present.

By living in the past or the future most of the time, quite simply, you lose time. Minutes, hours, days and weeks pass by without you even realising. Then all of a sudden, you’re 5, 10, 15 years older with your dreams and aspirations having disappeared. Often unrealised.

A healthy mind leads to a healthy body.

So next time you catch yourself getting lost in past memories, or worrying about something that may or may not happen in the future – stop.

Take a breath. Bring yourself back to your train journey, the scenery outside, the person speaking, the words on your screen, the noise around you.

Good or bad. Annoying or soothing. Being mindful of the ‘here and now’ will clear your mind of all its internal noise to help give you clarity, focus and most importantly time.

Concentrate on the present without your mind wandering.

All of a sudden, that presentation you struggling to prepare will come together as its not competing with thoughts of last night, this evening, next week, next year and so on.

So along with staying fit and healthy, don’t forget about your keeping your mind in shape too.

Not sure how to? Try following the Mindfulness ABC’s*:

Awareness: Be aware of what you’re thinking and doing at that exact moment, rather than getting lost in your thoughts.

Be: In the moment. Don’t let your mind drift when someone is speaking, when watching TV, whilst driving or travelling. Be present and focus on the person, the people / things around you.

Cee things and respond wisely: Okay this one cheats a little, but you get the point. Take time to engage with what you’re seeing or hearing and respond without prejudice or haste.

Quick Mindfulness Exercise

Before you go, try this 60 second exercise. Yes, just 60 seconds. Go on, I dare ya!

  • Set the timer on your computer, phone or watch for 60 seconds.
  • Then close your eyes and simply breathe.
  • Don’t let your mind wander.
  • For the full 60 seconds live in the moment.
  • If you start having thoughts about dinner that evening, an upcoming meeting, date or event, STOP and bring your mind back to your breathing.
  • Concentrate on breathing in and out.
  • In and out.
  • Listen to the sounds around you. Don’t think about them. Just listen and breathe.

Are you ready?

Start the timer now and enjoy living in the present for just 60 seconds.

* Juliet Adams, Founder of Mindfulnet.org & Director, A Head for Work

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