6 fun and creative ways to practice mindfulness
I've always loved the ideas of sitting down with a candle, some relaxing music and meditating. Mindfulness appeals to the side of me that knows slowing down always does me good.
But the idea has always been better than the reality. For a start, I struggle to make the time for it (I always say I'm going to get up at 6am and meditate before the day has begun, but we both know that's not going to happen.)
And it's not just me. A lot of us struggle with mindfulness - whether we don't or can't make the time for it, our thoughts won't go away, or we've just never really got it.
But with mindfulness, I've always felt there's got to be another way.
Mindfulness coach Mary Tracy of Widdershins describes mindfulness as:
'Being in the present, but much more present in the present than you've ever been before. You stop thinking about what you will do in the next minute, 'In fact, you stop thinking altogether. You just "are", you exist, without thoughts'
According to the Mental Health Foundation, in 2010, 72% of GPs reported that they thought mindfulness-based treatments, such as meditation, would help their patients that have mental health problems.
And there's even a Mindfulness in Schools project in the UK, based on the positive effects of mindfulness on all; better able to deal with stress, more in tune with our happiness and general increase in wellbeing all round.
I mean, come on! We're a bunch of creative souls, and we're not giving up and missing out on those sweet benefits yet!
That's why I've been experimenting with other methods of being mindful. Finding things that are fun, tap into our creative sides, and also give us the same benefits as mindfulness:
Calm, peace, perspective and a sense that everything that's muddled in my head has been organised.
So here are my 5 tips for being mindful while getting your creative fix at the same time.
1. Grab your camera and go
Mindfulness if about living in the moment, and grabbing a camera and finding a new perspectives completely encompasses the point of mindfulness. Now, you don't need to be a photographer, you don't need a fancy camera either, just something you can point and click with and an eye for detail.
And up the mindfulness even further by creating a scrapbook or photo album. Or follow in the footsteps of the lovely Sam from Oh! Hello and do a 365 photo challenge!
Seriously, I could talk all day long about how much I love doodling. I just pop my earphones in, grab a pen and follow where the pen fancies. I've also recently discovered the world of 'zenspirations', and I recommend watching this video right now if you've never heard of it.
Cooking can be SO good for the soul. Taking time, experimenting with spices, and just enjoying the whole experience. Pour over cookbooks (or good-looking stuff on Pinterest), go to the shop to buy specialist ingredients, and set the mood for a nice slow-paced, slow meal. Mmmmm.
(I'm going to let you into a little secret here - I LOVE peeling, chopping, watching the soup maker, everything. I could literally dedicate a day per week to each of those things. I mean, we have to get our kicks somewhere in life don't we? Ewww, not that way you filthy minded animal!)
4. Go for a walk
This is something I seriously need to make more space for in my life. When I was living in Cardiff, I lived about 3 minutes walk from a river, and sitting on a log, staring into the water and watching the ducks was the best way to practice mindfulness and clear that brain of mine. For once, leave the headphones at home, turn your phone on silent and just walk somewhere nice and sit and watch the world go by. It's amazing what ideas will come to you when walking, and how problems just seem to walk themselves better!
5. Rearrange things
I love re-arranging things. As in, mixing things up, turning the bed this way or that way, buying a new duvet set, getting some vases and photo frames and just making myself feel at home. Now, I'm no domestic goddess (to say the least) but a good tidy round and mix up can be really good for the soul. Change where things are, don't let rooms stagnate and surround yourself with things you love. Like these amaze-balls postcards I picked up at the Renegade Craft Fair in London by the awesome Emma Margaret.
Pick things you love and look at them every day!
Everyone I know would happily tell you that I'm not the most quiet person to live with. I'm a firm believer than singing goes with everything! Whether you sing like an angel (don't buy into that bullshit!) or you've just got a fair pair of pipes on you, sing out loud to the songs that make you the happiest. Get lost in the tune, make up your own lyrics if you don't remember them!
Mindfulness doesn't have to be hard. It doesn't have to be something we think other people can do, not us. We're all already practicing mindfulness in our own way already - whether it's daydreaming on the bus, staring into space when watching TV or getting a nap.
But when we start to do it consciously to calm our minds down - that's when we're really going to see those rewards.
Now, go stir up those creative juices and enjoy all the benefits of mindfulness at the same time.
Go! There's never a better time that right now!