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The 10 Keys to Mastering Mindfulness

We all know how valuable mindfulness is. Yet many people say to me, "I don't have the time to practise mindfulness" or "I am not sure how to be mindful". Well here are 10 easy and fast ways that anyone can use to start practising mindfulness.

1) Be Consistent: make it a habit. Aim to practise at the same time everyday (even if only for 5 minutes). Set an alarm on your phone. Building a routine is not always easy so they key is to start small and build on a small action for example, having a glass of water every morning when you wake up. Once you have achieved the latter, then try mindfulness meditation for 5 minutes directly after this and overtime as you improve, your can increase the duration that you meditate for. Remember, it is not helpful to force this practise, it should come from a place of curiosity and enjoyment.

2) A Positive Environment: take the time to create a space that is comfortable and free from distractions. You may consider using a stool, cushion or yoga mat. What helps you to relax? is it a dark room or a bright room, will you open the window to let some fresh air in or will you prefer to practise outdoors. Does incense or a scented candle help you to get into a relaxed state?

3) Know and Understand the Benefits: its important to remind ourselves of the benefits of mindfulness so that on the days we are feeling disinterested, distracted or tired as this will provide the incentive to keep going. Print a list of the benefits and stick them on the wall or an area in front of you will you meditate if you find yourself forgetting what is the point of your practise.

4) Adjust your body Position: Ensure your spine is straight and your breathing passage is clear and free from interference. Avoid hunching over when sitting which leads to feelings of drowsiness. Keep your chin level looking ahead to allow air to easily pass through your throat. This helps to oxygenate the brain and will keep you more alert and maintain a brighter energy. You can also practise mindfulness lying down but be aware that if you are feeling this leads to your body wanting to sleep, it might be worth sitting instead. Look after your joints and if crossing your legs causes discomfort, try shuffling into a position to ease your discomforts so the pain sensations do not interfere with your meditation.

5) A Positive Peer Group: Surround yourself with people who will encourage you to continue your mindfulness practise. It can be motivating to have a family member, partner or friend practising mindfulness with you as your both reinforce the habit and grow together. It will enhance your mindfulness practise if a whole school embraces mindfulness as a culture or you have like-minded people with a desire to try mindfulness around you.

6) A Good 'Mind' Diet: Avoid foods that are high in sugar, additives or artificial colouring's. The latter ingredients can unsettle the mind and unbalances our mental energy. Instead go for food which will sustain your energy, focus and sense of well being. The top 10 brain foods include: avocado, blueberries, broccoli, green leafy vegetables, coconut oil, wild salmon or oily fish, eggs, turmeric, dark chocolate and walnuts.

7) Go on a Digital Detox: In a world of over stimulation, we find ourselves never having the opportunity to say "I'm bored" anymore. Society undervalues the idea of 'downtime' and as a result we are more stressed than ever before. On social media we may receive messages from several platforms - Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Gmail, WhatsApp, Youtube and the list goes on! It can feel like a full time job getting back to people. Try simplifying your life by unplugging from media devices completely but if this is not desirable try reducing the amount of time you spend on social media having a 1 day a week digital detox tuning off all devices or make a commitment to yourself that you will only go on your devices after lunch time each day. You will start to find yourself becoming more mindful as a person as the 'noise' in your mind begins to reduce and this will enhance your practise.

8) What you do Off the Cushion: It is important to foster the production of positive chemicals such as (serotonin, dopamine and oxytonin) if we want to get the most out of our mindfulness meditation. Practising generosity and kindness for others such as friends, family members or even strangers (without expecting anything in return) gives us an inner feeling of warmth that money cant buy. It is only through meaningful connection with others that we are able to release hormones that having lasting benefits as opposed to the immediate but short lived 'dopamine dumps' we get from a like on Instagram. Having positive hormones in our bodies can enhance the quality and depth of our practise.

9) Acknowledge: it is not uncommon to have your mind wander when practising mindfulness. The key is not to beat ourselves up about our mind getting distracted, rather to bring the mind back gently to the point of focus (the breath, the sounds, tastes, smells). If you catch thoughts arising simply acknowledge the thought and let is go.

10) Persistence: Practise makes progress. Mindfulness may be hard for you to do in the beginning but do not give up, you are retraining your mind like a puppy on a leash. Set yourself achievable goals such as doing mindfulness for 5 minutes every morning this week and if you achieve it, reward yourself with positive thinking towards yourself, a pat on the back or a relaxing and fun activity.

The 10 Keys to Mastering Mindfulness

If you are interested in Learning more about Mindfulness and becoming a certified Mindfulness Coach, check out the INLP Center's Training and resources:

Mindfulness Certification Training for Individuals and Coaches

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