I’ve become aware after talking to a few people that the term “mindfulness” may be off-putting to some people – it sounds a bit flaky or “woo”. If you have an instinctive negative reaction to the word (as I initially did), try think about it as concentrating intensively on whatever you’re doing.
Mindfulness purists will argue me that it’s about more than just that, but for beginners it’s as good a definition as any. So, if you’re reading this while having a cup of tea, stop, turn away from the computer and focus on the tea. Its temperature, how it smells, how it tastes, how it feels in your mouth, how it feels as you swallow it (trying not to get too 50 Shades here, but you get the gist).
I find it incredibly difficult to do. It’s a real discipline, especially when you’re looking after babies or small children and are used to multitasking. Everyone has their particular areas of resistance –mine is eating. I find it virtually impossible to “just” eat, and not watch TV, look at the computer, read, etc. It feels very uncomfortable, not as though I’m wasting time as such, more that it just feels weird to be conscious of eating.
It is very worth it though. I’m still beginning, but for every minute (or even 30 seconds) I manage to focus on whatever I’m doing, I become noticeably less anxious. It’s pretty hard to obsess about something when you’re concentrating on a physical sensation such as eating or drinking or exercising. You come back to inhabiting your body instead of your head, and that’s one of the most helpful things for me.