Beginners Guide to Mindfulness

Practice the single habit that can unlock the powerful secrets of anti-aging. Mindfulness improves your mental and physical health and gives you the skills needed to make change for a longer and happier life.

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a seemingly simple habit. It involves being ‘present’ in the moment – aware of what is going on around you, what you are thinking about, and how you are feeling.

This deceptively straightforward practice is immensely powerful. By connecting you simultaneously to the world around you and your inner dialogue, mindfulness allows you to make the most of your life.

Mindfulness helps you fully revel in the positive moments, and – in difficult moments – it enables you to be considered in your response.

Mindfulness has been proven to result in less stress; improve decision-making; and to reduce the risk of serious health conditions including anxiety, depression, Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.

It is also a toolkit that allows you to take control of your choices – helping you stick to your nutrition or exercise plan, instead of making snap decisions that you might regret later.   

But the ability to be mindful takes practice. You can develop your skills using techniques like meditation and can become proficient quickly through short sessions of regular concentration.

Use our quick guide to get started.

Three easy steps to mindfulness for beginners

1) Set aside two minutes every day

For those starting out with mindfulness, a short meditation session without distractions is the best introduction. Find somewhere you feel comfortable and where you won’t be disturbed and give yourself two minutes each day to focus on being mindful.

2) Use those two minutes to create awareness

In your daily session, begin by paying attention to your breathing. As you follow each inhale and exhale, consider how your body feels and be aware of how your mind is behaving. If your mind is wandering to other subjects – which it will – don’t feel frustrated or judgmental of yourself, just practice bringing your attention back to your breath.

Once you have had plenty of practice and feel comfortable with your ability to maintain awareness of your breath, you can begin allowing yourself to be curious about other thoughts that occur to you during your daily practice.

Mindfulness is not about strictly de-cluttering your mind, it is about how to wield your awareness in a productive and helpful way. Gently placing focus on these thoughts can offer deeper insight into your own thinking.

3) Begin transferring this skill to everyday tasks

Introduce mindfulness in your wider life by picking a few daily tasks during which you can be mindful.

While washing the dishes or brushing your teeth, practice the awareness skills you have learned. Think about the activity you are doing and focus on how your body and mind feel, pay attention to how your mind wanders, and bring your thoughts back to the present moment.

Over time, you will be able to bring full focus to these tasks, turning them from necessary chores to islands of calm in your day. With even further practice, you’ll be able to call upon these techniques in moments of stress to prevent feelings of being overwhelmed and to help you work through difficult situations.

Walking, Exercise and Mindfulness

Walking is of course a great way to keep active and physically well, but did you know it can also be utilized as a method of including mindfulness and meditation into your everyday life?

Walking is an automated movement that we practice every single day. For most of us, we put one foot in front of the other without needing to focus in on the specific action, it is completely second nature. Because of this, our thoughts can race around our minds, causing clutter and chaos.

People go on walks every single day. But often, the walk is undergone with thoughts completely elsewhere. It can feel impossible to switch off, you may be physically out in nature, but mentally, still in the office or analysing all the tasks on the to do list, still to be completed.

There are, however, ways to transform your daily walk into a more mindful or even a meditative practice. And by doing so, creating a greater inner peace and connection to your mind and body.

Here are some things you could try to begin walking more mindfully:

Make a conscious effort to notice your thoughts:

As you begin your walk take note of where your mind may be drifting off to. It could be work or family related. Acknowledge those feelings and then let them go, remind yourself that this walk is for your mind and body. This walk is not however, a time to plan this week’s shopping list or worry about when you will ever have time to go back to the dentist. Shift your mind back to the present moment and focus in on the simple act of going for a walk.

Tune into your posture:

Check in with yourself. Are you holding any tension within your body? Are your shoulders raised? Do your hips feel tight? Quite often we subconsciously hold the stress we have in our lives somewhere within our bodies. It isn’t until we take a moment to notice the stress and tension within us that we can actively release and let it go.

Take in your surroundings:

As you walk, observe the world around you. There is no need to fixate on anything, but take it all in. Notice the trees and the changing surface under your feet. What colours can you see? Are there buildings or houses? Look at the birds and notice their mannerisms. Wherever you are walking, remain in the present moment. Too often we miss all the small stuff because we aren’t allowing ourselves to be truly present. Let your life go for the time you are on your walk and let in all the things that surround you.

Feel all the senses:

Now that you are in the present moment, dive deeper. What can you smell? What can you hear? What taste is still in your mouth? Take deep breathes and feel your lungs with fresh air and as you do so, take a mental note of all the senses of your body and how they feel.

Always return to the movement:

Come back to your body and the rhythm of your steps. As you come to the end of your walk notice if you feel different, mentally, physically or maybe both. Is there a sense of lightness and clarity that you can keep with you as your day continues?

This guide is a simple start to mindful walking, there are many resources out there that you can utilise for more meditative walking guides.

Including mindful walking into your day to day life has many benefits. 30-60 minutes, 3-5 times a week can have a profound, lasting impact on your physical and mental health.

Mindful walking can reduce risks of health implications such as illness, obesity and heart disease whilst simultaneously alleviating anxiety, stress and creating a greater sense of self. Life today is busy and noisy; our minds rarely get the chance to be still. Regular practice of walking integrated with meditation can ease tension and bring much needed calm into our lives.