We live in stressful times. If we're not worrying about our jobs, our families, our health, our wealth, our lives; then quite simply we're not breathing!
Lucky for us the new buzz word for anyone experiencing any kind of anxiety or stress in their daily life is 'Mindfulness'. If you don't know what it is (that's what I'm here for!) and you need the official party line, then these guys offer a pretty good overview. Otherwise, stick with me and I'll give it a pretty good go!
So what is it? Mindfulness may be best explained as 'living in the present moment'. We all have unconscious bodily responses that we execute every millisecond without even thinking about it. We breathe, blink, hear, smell and see constantly and yet we very rarely bring that practice into consciousness. On the one hand this is genetically sound and a necessary quirk of being human. And yet what if I told you that we are so adept at sidelining our natural responses, that some of us may be masking our deep-rooted emotions and feelings?
Let me give you an example. You are waiting for a bus for work. It's late. You are going to be very late. You are frustrated and helpless. How many of us sit with the stress and anxiety of this situation? How many of us notice our deeper, more rapid breathing? How many of us notice our clenched teeth, grinding together, causing a shooting pain through our jaws?
Instead of sitting with our anxiety and stress, how many of us would choose to distract ourselves at that time? To send an email. To call work. To pace up and down. All the while furrowing our brows, suppressing our anger and burying it away safely for another day?
Well, what's so wrong with that I hear you cry? In the short term and for many people there isn't anything 'wrong' with that at all and often we may feel that not to rise to a stressful situation may be a safer option at that time. But for others, siphoning away small drops of anger, sadness, resentment and frustration even a little bit each day, can ultimately lead to a deluge of emotion when you least expect it.
Being mindful means noticing what is happening in the present moment. It is being aware of what we are hearing, tasting, seeing, touching, smelling and feeling right here, right now. Because it is only when we notice it, that we begin to feel it. Being aware of what we are experiencing in daily life can not only help you manage emotions more effectively, but could also have an effect on how see yourself and the world around you.
Why don't you try it next time you're eating a meal? Think about what you can taste, how your teeth feel when they bite/chew, what sound the cutlery makes as you eat. Don't worry if it doesn't 'work' for you the first time. This isn't a magic cure and it certainly won't change your life overnight. However in the least it may just give you 5 minutes a day to stop worrying about things that are out of your control and give you the chance to really hear yourself clearly.