A friend of mine for quite a while now has spoken to me about the importance and benefits of meditation and that it can actually impact your life in a real way. It was because of her that I started using the Headspace App (as talked about here). She really convinced me that I would see benefits from doing it and shortly after I started meditating with short sessions (a few minutes) and slowly built up to nearly 10 minutes. I am a person who naturally can get stressed quite quickly but I have found that by meditating I have not been getting as stressed out in recent months.
Recently another friend of mine suggested that I join him on a mindfulness course (not knowing that I was already meditating) and I decided to just go for it – the worst thing that could happen was that I spent the day hanging out with a friend in a nice hotel. The term ‘Mindfulness’ was one that I have seen pop up in more and more places in the last year and it really began to spark my curiosity as well.
However I should not have doubted, the course actually ended up being amazing. It is hands down one of the most beneficial courses that I have done and I learned so much about how I can take control of anxiety or stress as well as just having a healthier mind. And today I wanted to share that with you as I think that nearly everyone could benefit from practising it.
What is Mindfulness?
There are so many different definitions of mindfulness online and in books etc. so this is my take on what it is. To me, mindfulness is about being fully present with every sense in a moment in time. How often have you gone for a walk and then got home and not remembered any of the details along the way? If you had of walked in a more mindful way then you may have noticed the flowers in the gardens you passed, the dogs barking or how busy the traffic was. All the mundane things that take place in our environment. If you are mindful then to me you click out of autopilot mode and into a more present sense of being.
I have found that I am more content when I am being mindful as I am less focused on the million and two thoughts running through my head – instead I am focused on where I am and what I am doing in that moment.
How to get started with Mindfulness?
The best tip that I took away from the day is just to stop, take in your surroundings and breathe. By doing this and focusing on what is happening around you – what you can see, what you can hear, what you can smell etc. will help you be more mindful in that moment. My understanding taken from the course is that it is a combination of these small moments of ‘stopping’, that add up togeather to you leading a more mindful life. It will also bring you back to the present moment which can be important if you are stressed out about something and can take the focus from a negative mindset.
One point to note is that I found this quite difficult. It is very hard to block out all of the noise and just focus on the moment. There is so much happening all of the time and I was not used to thinking about just one moment. That may sound bizarre but it was hard to start.
What difference have I noticed since starting to practice Mindfulness?
I have really noticed that I am sleeping more soundly at night which I think is down to being slightly calmer during the day (and less stressed!) and being more aware of my day to day life. I plan to keep practising and try to increase my awareness day-to-day and see what other benefits that I experience and hopefully it will continue to improve my anxiety levels.
The course that I did was a full day course was with the Irish Mindfulness Academy and it was €99 for the day. This is easily some of the most well-spent money that I have in quite a while. Our teacher/guide for the day was actually the founder Carmel Farnan and she is one of the most calming people that I have met. She put everyone at ease and the whole day actually flowed really well. When we did some meditation sessions she led them in the most relaxing way and I haven’t felt that stress-free in quite a while! I would highly recommend that you contact the academy if you would like to learn more.
This is my personal experience with Mindfulness and the knowledge that I learned on the course that I took. I always recommend that anyone who is interested is to read about it and see if it is a fit for your life.
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