I’ve talked about Mindfulness before in a previous post and it is often linked to formal meditation practice but Mindfulness is more than that. Being mindful is something we can all engage in without any formal training or guidance.
BEING MINDFUL IS NOTICING WHAT IS HERE RIGHT NOW
Our minds are incredible things, we can plan numerous possibilities of future events, recall endless past memories, conjure up new and exciting dreams and innovations, all while getting on with something in the present. On your drive to work you possibly cycle through many of these things, but still manage to focus on the road enough to get where you need to go. The brain really is amazing. But sometimes this endless reel of past, present and future thoughts can leave our minds feeling very busy and this can lead to stress and a sense of overwhelm.
Even if the stress and overwhelm have not kicked in, you may still love this activity! For most of us, our usual pattern of busy thoughts means we forget to really notice and savour the good things around us and research has shown that this process can really increase our sense of happiness and reduce stress.
The Savouring Walk
Decide you are actively going to make this walk a Savouring walk - which means if it is with someone else you need to get them on board or try and find time on your own.
Notice things with curiosity and wonder - even if you have seen them before. For example, when I did this recently I stopped in amazement at the size of a tree I pass all the time on a walk and really noticed its beauty. Normally I just walk on by, because it's always there.
Remember to use all your senses. A year ago I lost my smell, I mean completely gone. You could spray perfume in my face and nothing! But I’m pleased to say it came back about 6 months ago and I savour smells every day! It’s amazing how losing something can make you appreciate it more, but I also know how easy it is to start taking it for granted. So, I make a real effort to savour any smells that come my way (good and bad! I’m so grateful to have it back! But you may just wish to savour the nice ones on your walk. And don’t forget sounds. Is there a bird chirping, or the sound of the wind in the trees, or people chatting.
Allow any negatives to float past. When noticing things in more detail you may pick up on things you don’t like. Give yourself permission to let these go. There will be plenty of good things to focus on.
Savouring the good things has been shown to give us a positive boost and over a period of one week, people who did this everyday reported higher levels of happiness overall compared to control groups (Bryant & Veroff, 2007).
Regardless of what the research says, this is about you and how this can improve your life. We often most need to do these things when we least feel like it. So, doing them deliberately for a while will start to create a habit and hopefully it will be something that you will naturally do when you most need it - like on a day where there doesn't seem to be too many positive things happening.
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Clare Martin is a the founder of the Positive Teacher Network who specialises in helping teachers to find the ultimate Work Life Balance and supports them with many of the difficulties teachers face today.
The Positive Teacher Network provides practical tips and strategies to busy, tired teachers to help them improve their lives allowing them to focus on being great teachers.