Get mindful.

by Laura Gale

Mindfulness is a bit of a buzzword, bandied about by everyone from psychiatrists to yoga teachers to Instagram influencers.  I’m not sure where I fit on that spectrum but I’m coming at you with it too, and there’s SO many good reasons for that.

Without the perceived constraints and intimidation some associate (perhaps mistakenly) with meditation (think chanting, sitting straight-backed with legs crossed); mindfulness can be practiced by anyone, at any time, and almost anywhere.  And it’s not only simple and trendy, but also an incredible tool for stress reduction.  Here’s two ways you can try being mindful today:

Mindfulness in nature:

Take yourself outside and find somewhere comfortable to sit.  Close your eyes and start to consciously slow down your breath.  Breathe into your abdomen (as opposed to your chest).  Now, start to tune into all the things you can feel: your body connected to the ground or your chair, the breeze and warmth from the sun on your skin.  Next, the things you can hear: birds, cars, kids, wind in the trees, people talking.  Now, what can you smell? Maybe some flowers, freshly cut grass.  Move through your senses slowly.  You’ll find that while you’re concentrating, your brain can’t be thinking about the past, or the future – you’re rooted in the present.

Mindfulness in food:

Instead of shovelling your next meal at your desk or in front of the TV, try eating mindfully.  This can begin during the cooking process: the sound of things sizzling in the pan, the aromas as different flavours develop, even the way that colours change as ingredients cook.  Eat with your eyes first.  Look at the different colours, notice whether there’s any steam coming off the plate.  While you’re eating, think about how the food feels in your mouth, what is the texture like? Can you take 20-30 bites before you swallow?  Think about the different flavours you can taste. Can you identify all the ingredients you used, or do they all mingle together?  Eating mindfully also has the added benefit of aiding in digestion.  While you’re paying attention to all the wonderful smells and engaging in the process of preparing the food, your stomach and digestive system has a bit more time to get ready and can better produce the digestive secretions we need to properly break down food and obtain all the essential nutrients.

There’s a reason mindfulness is all over the place right now: it’s simple to do and it works.  Being mindful is a great way to keep your brain from worrying about the future or fretting about the past.  When your mind is engaged in the present moment, it can’t be anywhere else.  What a wonderful way to reduce stress and slow down.

If you or someone you know is looking for personalised support with a naturopathic and functional medicine approach, book an appointment with Naturopath Laura here, or call the clinic on 03 5977 0177. 

This article is intended to be informational only and represents the opinion of the author. It is not intended to be used as medical advice and does not take the place of advice from a qualified health care practitioner in a clinical setting. Please check with your healthcare practitioner before embarking upon any of the treatments discussed.