Words by: Coby Renkin Art by: Lillian Busby
Mindfulness. We’ve all heard of it. But many of us are still a little blurry on what it is and what it does.
Mindfulness is being in the moment, it’s focusing solely on the task at hand and devoting all your senses to it, remaining unbothered by other goings-on. Research shows that mindfulness can reduce stress levels and increase feelings of calmness and happiness, all while improving focus, memory and creativity
I’ve tried the basics — colouring in, meditating and just doing ‘nothing’. And I’ll be honest, I have problems with all of them.
I’ll admit I was intrigued when colouring in made a comeback. Being in control and stress free? Structured but creative? It sounded great; why did we ever stop? Turns out the excitement of keeping in the lines of a nice mandala wasn’t enough to keep my mind from running amuck. It felt mindless rather than mindful.
I have so much respect for the meditate-every-morning-in-order-to-function people, but I just can’t seem to do it. There isn’t enough to keep me going for more than 30 seconds without every single thing I’ve said and done over the last week running through my mind.
I guess this is also the problem I face when it comes to doing ‘nothing’ — I’m just not very good at it. I envy those who flourish in time spent calm, quiet and totally on task; I wish that I could do it. But it appears I have a brain completely unwilling.
I often find it hard to narrow my ever-growing brain tabs down to five, let alone one and it appears this is why I struggle with the activities typically associated with mindfulness. It also appears this is likely why I need to focus on these activities. But the harder I try, the less it seems to work… am I doing something wrong? Did I just answer my own question?
What I’ve found is that I need something specific to think about — something that isn’t so broad my mind will just wander, and something that will give me more than seven seconds of thinking material. I did
a deep dive on Google to find some suggestions that align with this. On the off chance that the ramble I’ve just given resonates with you, here are some slightly lesser known activities to keep you mindful:
Go for something like sultanas. Examine and focus on each one, think about it in relation to each of your senses. How does it feel, taste, smell, and compare to the last sultana? Eat slowly and thoughtfully, and focus on nothing other than these questions.
Look around and think about each thing you see. Not just ‘grass, car, dog’, but the colour of each of these, the textures they have, the moves they take, and the noises they make. Focus on each of these without letting your mind wander.
Five Senses Exercise
Focus on five things you can see, four things you can feel, three things you can hear, two things you can smell and one thing you can taste. That is all.
Create a Coffee Ritual
Each morning, slowly and carefully make your coffee. Focus on every individual task in the process and each element involved — the clarity of the water, the steam rising from the mug. Give yourself a few minutes to do something you would have done anyway, but make it mindful.