CREATING MINDFUL MOMENTS
Mindfulness is not a new practice, it has been around for thousands of years and was and still is the central aspect of Buddhist psychology. Ancient yogis used mindfulness as the sixth limb of ‘the eight limbs of yoga’ and referred to it as Dharana, meaning focused attention.
Today mindfulness has become one of the most important tools used in the therapeutic practice of psychotherapy and psychology. However, mindfulness is a helpful practice for everybody as a tool to understand ourselves better, to positively enhance our well-being and to help us live life to our full potential.
The definition of mindfulness simply put is:
“Paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgementally.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn.
How do we learn and practice mindfulness?
Mindfulness can be viewed as a personality trait that can be developed, encouraged and nurtured.
“Mindfulness is to your brain as exercise is to your lungs and muscles, as brushing and flossing is to your teeth.” – Sophie Mattingley
Let us, view it like you would your physical fitness. To stay fit and healthy we can bring exercise into our day to day lifestyle, for example, choosing to walk rather than drive or taking the stairs instead of the lift. We may also choose to attend a gym or a sporting team to find more direction or motivation in our fitness. This is the same for mindfulness. Work it into your daily life but you may also like to seek out a teacher who can guide you and keep you on track. Keeping our minds healthy is just as important as keeping our bodies healthy.
To experience mindfulness is to take a few moments to pay attention and bring ourselves into the present moment. For this moment, we are not thinking of what may happen in the future or what has happened in the past, we are only focussed on the now.
We can do this by:
• focusing on our breath, following the path of each inhale and exhale
• if out walking we can pay attention to each step we take, to the trees and flowers and to each sound we hear
• if we are having a shower we can feel the water as it washes over us
• if we are eating we can chew each mouthful slowly experiencing the taste and texture of the food we are eating
• if we are with friends we can listen to what they are saying with our full attention, not thinking about what we want to say next
• we can practice simply doing one thing at a time.
Sometimes we may need a simple reminder or a ritual that encourages us to stop and take a moment. The Buddhists use the term ‘invite the bell’, as a reminder to come back to ourselves.
“In my tradition, every time we hear the bell, we pause. We stop moving, talking and thinking, and we listen to the voice of the heart.” - Thich Nhat Hanh
Nunchi can be that little reminder just like ‘the bell’. Spraying nunchi can be that reminder for you to stop and take a moment.
Creating a nunchi moment
All you need to do is spray nunchi overhead several times, allow the mist to fall over you, close your eyes and breathe in the beautiful aroma. Focus on your breath, your inhalation and exhalation for six rounds. During this time, do not judge how you feeling, just bring a sense of curiosity, acceptance and patience. This will take just one minute of your time. When you open your eyes you can acknowledge that you have given yourself the gift of this moment and that the essential oils in your nunchi spray will be helping you to stay calm and centred.
Practice this as often as you want throughout your day and create regular nunchi moments. These could be after a shower, before leaving your home, in your car, when you sit down with a cup of tea or coffee, whilst sitting at your computer working, when arriving home form work, before you go to bed.
You will discover your own nunchi moments that fit in with your daily routines. The secret, then, to your mindfulness success is consistency. Just keep practicing. Like any skill, the more you practice the better you will become and overtime you will find this practice becomes a natural part of who you are.
The aim over time is that you will begin to notice unhelpful thought patterns, recognise stress triggers, connect to your relaxation response, separate yourself from the day’s events, increase the likelihood of a good night’s sleep and increase your ability to deal with difficult situations and emotions. Ultimately we become more in tune with who we are and develop resilience.