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What was your first thought when you read that?  It’s an interesting one as it has different connotations depending on which word is emphasised.

MIND your own business!

Mind your OWN business!

How do they feel different?

I was lying in bed last night thinking about writing this blog and a few phrases came to mind…

Mind your step, mind how you go, mind your own business and I don’t mind to name a few.  The thing that stood out for me was not only do all of these sayings have the word MIND in, they all relate to being mindful and mindfulness is exactly what this blog is about.

Now Mindfulness is a buzz word at the moment and something that is being actively encouraged to promote well-being which I personally think is wonderful, but what exactly is it?

Basically, Mindfulness is an intervention used at the level of thoughts which then influences our physical and emotional state.  Put simply, ‘being mindful’ is being present in the moment.

Now as I’m sure we all know, this is easier said than done and is something that takes practice but the benefits are well worth it – more on this later.  First, take your mind back to the sayings I mentioned earlier all beginning with the word ‘Mind’.  In essence, they are all saying the same thing – be mindful.  Be mindful of where you step and be mindful of how you go.  When saying this to others, we are essentially telling someone to take care.  If we look at ‘mind your own business’ however, that has more of a negative connotation as generally if someone is saying that, it’s because they feel someone has imposed a view or opinion on them that they either don’t like or didn’t ask for.  So, mind your own business not only means ‘butt out’ but also be mindful of your own business so be mindful of your own thoughts, feelings and behaviours before you judge mine.  And what about I don’t mind.  This is a phrase that people say all the time.  Truthfully though, do you really not mind?  When you take a moment to think about it, what are you actually feeling about it?

Being mindful is something, I feel, we should all do as it impacts on all areas of our lives from our cognition and emotions to our behaviour and perception of the world around us.  It can be used not only as a tool to calm and keep us present in the moment, it can also be used to manage feelings of anxiety, anger and aggression.

Neuroscience research now tells us that being mindful also has a physical impact on the brain including; increased grey matter density in the Prefrontal Cortex responsible for executive functions such as planning, problem solving and emotional regulation, increased thickness in the Hippocampus responsible for learning and memory and lastly decreased amygdala size which is the seat of our ‘Fight or Flight’ response.  It is important to note that these results are found in people who practice Mindfulness regularly but there is no arguing that it has amazing benefits on all aspects of our health and well-being.

And guess what?  When we’re being mindful, our inner voice also shuts the hell up allowing us to actually just be as we cannot focus on more than one thing at one time.   The more you practice mindfulness, the more you will notice that you can do ANYTHING mindfully from eating and walking to socialising and self-talk.  Now it’s well and good me saying to start practising but HOW do you actually do it?

The easiest way to practice Mindfulness is by using our breath.  Try being mindful when you wake up.  Give yourself permission to take five minutes to just breathe.   

Focus on your breath, notice your stomach rising and falling as you inhale and exhale.  Hear the sound of your breath in your body, be fully present in that moment.  Then notice how much calmer and more relaxed you feel as you begin your day.

Be mindful of your language, be mindful of your thoughts, be mindful of your behaviours and start to enjoy the feeling of just being.

THINK well, FEEL well, BE well.