Simply put, mindfulness is the act of keeping our mind in the present moment. One of the common ways to practice mindfulness is through meditation. While meditation is a practice many people find helpful for their health and wellbeing, the term meditation might make us think of people sitting cross-legged repeating mantras to Tibetan meditation music. This might not appeal to all us blokes and may turn us away from the practice, but meditation is just one avenue to incorporate mindfulness into our lives.
For all of us our mind often gets caught ruminating over the past or worrying about the future. It’s important to spend time in the future to plan for upcoming events and also to spend some time in the past to learn from our mistakes. However, spending too much time dwelling on negative events of the past or having our mind consumed by worry about bad things that could happen in the future will lead to heightened anxiety levels. This is why mindfulness and mindful meditation is sometimes used in the medical industry as a tool to help tackle diagnosed mental illnesses, such as anxiety disorders. Extensive research into the practice has shown that it improves mental health and wellbeing outcomes in addition to other areas in our lives such as chronic pain management and addiction.
Our time perspective encompasses the amount of time we spend with our mind in the past, present or future. To practice mindfulness, we need to bring our thoughts back to the present. Pay more careful, non-judgmental attention to the here and now. If our mind starts wandering, simply accept the thought and bring ourselves back to the present.
There are some simple ways to practice mindfulness in everyday life:
Mindful breathing – Spend time (ideally seated) with our thoughts focused on our breath as our chest moves in and out. If we are trying to calm ourselves during a stressful moment it might help to take an exaggerated breath to bring ourselves back to the present.
Mindful Driving – Have you ever had a long trip in the country and not remembered the drive? This is because we are often ‘mindless’ when driving. To practice mindful driving, we start by bringing our focus to the breath and our mind to the present – we bring our attention to the feel of our hands on the steering wheel and sound of road noise.
By incorporating mindful exercises into our life, we may come to realise that we are spending a lot of time completely mindless. And, over time, we will be better able to enjoy life’s pleasures as they arise. When we take timeout to smell the roses, we might just see an improvement in our overall health and wellbeing.
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Tom and the Team
The Regional Men’s Health Initiative
delivered by Wheatbelt Men’s Health (Inc.)
PO Box 768, Northam WA 6401
Phone: 08 9690 2277