As we’re all accustomed to hearing these days, mindfulness can be a powerful tool for maintaining physical and mental wellbeing while coping with the stresses of daily life.
I first learned about mindfulness a handful of years ago after going through a period of feeling low. I had always been someone with an abundance of energy, yet there I was having a hard time picking myself up and getting things done at the pace that I was used to; preoccupied with many things, consumed with my thoughts and the stories that I was telling myself. I began to seek answers on how to get out of the state that I was in and, in the process, was introduced to mindfulness.
Practising mindfulness can improve both physical and psychological health. It has been linked to a number of benefits that include: reduced stress, controlled anxiety, decreased blood pressure, greater concentration, lengthened attention span, reduced age-related memory loss, a positive mood and outlook, self-discipline, enhanced self-awareness, improved sleep and helping manage pain.
But what exactly is mindfulness? It is a moment to moment awareness of your thought, feeling and sensations. It’s not necessarily about stopping your thoughts, but about finding ways of being with them. Mindfulness is about being fully present and engaged and allowing thoughts and feelings to come and go without distraction or judgment. It has helped me tremendously in being happier, more balanced and effective in my personal and business lives.
The most effective way to practise mindfulness is through meditation; focussing on breathing, bringing your mind’s attention to the present and being intuitively aware of what you are thinking and feeling, without drifting into thoughts and concerns about the past or future.
I’ve laid out some mindfulness exercises that have helped me in my journey, and will hopefully help you as well. These exercises can help to more fully experience and enjoy even the simplest of things:
Slow down and tune into your senses. It’s important to set aside time to truly experience the environment and things that are happening around you. For example, when eating, try to slow down and savour the food in front of you as much as possible, losing yourself in the smells and flavours. Similarly, when we engage in our daily skincare routine, we should also take the time to smell the products, feel their textures and be present in the moment. These daily rituals will begin to feel amazing, and a sense of gratitude will emerge.
Live in the moment. Attempt to pay attention to everything that you are doing and find pleasure in it, instead of simply going through the motions. It’s easy to get distracted and focus on our long to-do lists, but this simply robs us of the present moment, and leaves us with feelings of anxiety. It’s normal for our minds to race, but as your mind begins to fill with thoughts, try returning to the present with a few deep breaths.
Let go of your judgements and negative thoughts. When your thoughts lead to judgements, simply acknowledge and let them go. Ruminating on negative thoughts and memories can burden us, leaving us feeling exhausted. Closing your eyes and concentrating on your breathing for a few minutes while noting your thoughts, feelings and sensations can really help you release these negative emotions, leaving you feeling lighter.
Be kind and accept yourself. For whatever reason, we’re often harder on ourselves than anyone else. By showing the same patience and kindness to yourself as you would to a friend, you will begin to feel more connected to yourself as you let go of this self-imposed judgment, that’s often built up over the years.
I have to confess that I’ve never been very disciplined about sitting down and practicing meditation on its own and don’t do it as often as I should.
However, twice a week I do go through a full skincare ritual that includes exfoliating with Essence Noir Polish, micro-needling with Roller Noir and applying one of the NANNETTE de GASPÉ dry techstile treatments. The 15 minutes that I’m wearing my dry mask provides the perfect opportunity to be still. I focus on my breathing and allow my thoughts to drift in and out without judgment for which thoughts come to mind. This quiet moment of solitude is a ritual I am grateful for.
The ultimate and most indulgent way for me to practise mindfulness is during a bath with my Cannabis Sativa Bath Soak; its Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil and aromatic blend of Neroli and Eucalyptus, helps soothe both my mind and body. It relaxes tired, tight muscles, soothes the skin and seduces the senses, creating a calming atmosphere and makes me feel as though I am escaping all the noise of the day. I try to ensure that I have a minimum 15 minutes uninterrupted. I let my breath become slower and slower, practising the 4-7-8 method - breathing in through the noise, filling my belly with air for 4 seconds, holding my breath for 7 seconds and breathing out through my mouth for 8 seconds. This is a great way to calm both your mind and body. It gives you a sense of comfort and easiness which allows you to completely let go.
I realize that life is more challenging than ever these days, and that self-care is more than just baths and a beautiful skincare routine. But it is important to take moments out of our day, everyday, to slow down and reconnect with ourselves in any way we can. Sometimes, even the simplest moments like washing our face in the morning is a great opportunity to practise mindfulness - something I truly believe makes a positive impact on our outlook in life.