What Even is Mindfulness?
Imagine this, you're washing the dishes after your dinner (just imagine), for a moment or two you've left down your phone, you forget the thoughts in your head and just concentrate solely on the sensation of the water hitting your hands, how it bounces and crashes into the sink, the smell of the washing up liquid, the feeling of the bubbles on your hands, the sounds of the running water...for a few moments you are JUST washing a plate, practicing mindfulness.
It's become a buzz word of late and it shouldn't carry with it any stigma of some "hippy-dippy", Namaste, peace and love type aura that some people may think it does. You don't have to wear parachute pants and sit in the grass cross-legged, listening to the hum of the globe spinning to practice it. Mindfulness suggests that the mind is fully attending to what’s happening, to what you’re doing, to the space you’re moving through. That doesn't sound too hard does it? But it is. The average college student usually has class work, study, personal relationships, a job or two, a social life, extra-curricular activities etc etc which all take up a space in our minds on a daily basis, not usually at once. Not to mention the smartphone that will let you know it want's some attention too. At points you want to laugh and cry at the same time!
At times we do it without even trying, and it feels good. Those of you that go to gym, or play sports, or play a musical instrument or even bake as a pastime or interest, move in and out of mindfulness without even realizing. For a moment noting else matters apart from lifting a heavy weight, taking a free-kick, playing a guitar riff perfectly or icing a cupcake.
Spending all your time thinking ahead or behind and coping with distracting thoughts is detrimental to your well being, and the practice of mindfulness pulls your mind away from that path. It's a case of acknowledging that you have thought's distracting you, maybe you're worrying about sometihng that has happened already, or hasn't happened yet, which is not a positive mental state to be in. Bow to these thought's, know they are there and send them on their way, as you are not living in the present moment which is all that life really is.
A good place to start with mindfulness is with something very sensory, in the morning time. Practice mindfulness in the shower, or when brushing your teeth. Take note of the feels, the smells, the tastes, the space you occupy. Don't use this time to plan your breakfast, to plan your day of lectures or work, who you might run into, what they might say to you etc etc. The plan here being that soon this will become part of your daily routine and before the day has begun you've made an effort to de-stress and acknowledge your own sense of self.
Another important area to incorporate this mindset into is diet and exercise. Eating has become a mindless act for so many people. Without much thought or consideration we eat to excess and we eat too fast, especially in today's fast paced world, or if you only have a few minutes between lectures or on your break at work. It takes the brain up to 20 minutes to realize you're full. So that signal may not arrive until you've overdone it. Mindful eating comes down to recognizing the hunger signals and acting on them as opposed to eating out of boredom or for a cheeky study (procrastination) break. From there being mindful towards the food choices you make, this doesn't mean you have to eat salad everyday, a healthy outlook includes treats, or something sweet or the occasional takeaway every once in a while, that's normal! But making the conscious decision each day make a mindful choice, to sit down, to dedicate some mental space to the food, to experience actually eating it and to enjoy it is practicing mindfulness.
We here in An Bhialann have a Mindful dish of the day everyday at the originals counter. All dishes are prepared fresh everyday, using locally sourced ingredients where possible. The Mindful dish of the day is low in salt, sugars, fat & saturated fat. Our aim is to make your mindful choice easier. We also have a mindful veg of the week each week that we showcase throughout the restaurant, highlighting different ways to prepare it with recipes and cooking methods on-hand to support. Look out for some of the brilliant power salads available daily in our dedicated vegan and non-vegan salad bars. Keep an eye out also for some of the material available to you in-house if you want some more information on mindfulness and mindful eating.
We even have a dedicated website at Sodexo full of recipes, exercise tips, sleep tips and how to find a healthy balance for mindful living. Check it our here; https://www.mindful.sodexo.com/uk/why-mindful/
According to research from the University of Cambridge, mindfulness training helps build resilience in university students and improve their mental health, particularly during stressful exam periods. The study, which involved just over 600 Cambridge students, concluded that the introduction of eight-week mindfulness courses in UK universities could help prevent mental illness and boost students’ well being at a time of growing concern about mental health in the higher education sector.
Pick up some information on Mindfulness and Mindful Eating in An Bhialann this month and keep an eye out for our mindful dishes each day.