Find out how mind mind­ful­ness can make you hap­pier, more fo­cused and less stresse stressed.

Shape (Singapore) - - Contents -

You’ve prob­a­bly heard of mind­ful­ness. It’s be­come the buzz­word that’s bandied around as the so­lu­tion to just about any­thing whether you’re stuck in traf­fic, burnt out at work, or try­ing to raise a well-ad­justed kid. Those who prac­tise mind­ful­ness call it the per­fect an­ti­dote to a busy life that can some­times seem like one long to-do list, while cyn­ics dis­miss it as new-age mumbo-jumbo. So let’s get things straight – what ex­actly is mind­ful­ness?

Erin Lee, a mind­ful­ness coach who runs her own prac­tice, Mind­ful Mo­ments, ex­plains it as hav­ing a mo­ment-to-mo­ment aware­ness of what’s go­ing on around you, and how it makes you feel. It started out as a spir­i­tual prac­tice but has be­come part of ev­ery­day life. The prac­tice of mind­ful­ness teaches that dwelling in the past or wor­ry­ing about the fu­ture can be emo­tion­ally dam­ag­ing and un­pro­duc­tive. “Mind­ful­ness trains the mind and at­ten­tion, in or­der to ground you in the present mo­ment as and when needed,” she says, adding that it helps you fo­cus, feel less stressed out, and have greater clar­ity about what trig­gers cer­tain feel­ings.

The best part? You can be mind­ful any­time, any­where. You just need to know how, and then you prac­tise, prac­tise, prac­tise. DO IT ON YOUR OWN: BREATHE “IN­TEN­TION­ALLY” Make it a habit by de­lib­er­ately set­ting a few min­utes aside ev­ery day to do this. It means do­ing a men­tal scan of your body to re­flect on how you’re feel­ing that day and no­tice your breath­ing pat­terns. Give your­self space to ob­serve your thoughts, emo­tions, and body sen­sa­tions. The point is to be at peace with these feel­ings rather than sup­press them. Be­ing aware of what trig­gers cer­tain emo­tions can mean that you’ll avoid re­peat episodes in fu­ture. If your mind strays, (and it will if you’re new to the mind­ful­ness game), use an au­dio med­i­ta­tion guide (try Cen­tre

For Mind­ful­ness) to help you stay on track. DO IT ON YOUR OWN: TRY MONOTASKING Mul­ti­task­ing doesn’t make you more ef­fec­tive. In fact, you might be stress­ing your­self out more than nec­es­sary. The frontal part of the brain is built to pay at­ten­tion to one thing at a time, ex­plains Kathi­rasan K, direc­tor of the Cen­tre for Mind­ful­ness. Mono­task in­stead.

The eas­i­est way to start is when you’re grab­bing a bite. Eat alone, skip the Net­flix, and give your meal your full at­ten­tion. Don’t just swal­low your food. Chew slowly and savour it, notic­ing its tex­ture and taste. Once you’re used to the idea of do­ing this, you’ll find it eas­ier to in­ject this same level of at­ten­tive­ness into other as­pects of your life. Then, cre­ate what ex­perts call “mind­ful­ness trig­gers” through­out your day on the com­mute to work, while climb­ing the stairs, or when tak­ing a shower. Be mind­ful dur­ing those ac­tiv­i­ties. It’ll im­prove your abil­ity to fo­cus, and that means you’ll feel less stressed. USE IT IN YOUR SO­CIAL LIFE: CON­SCIOUSLY HIT PAUSE ON AN AR­GU­MENT Dur­ing an ar­gu­ment, your mind is flooded with thoughts you’re prob­a­bly chomp­ing at the bit to get out. Ask for a three-minute time-out. That way, you won’t lash out, and you’ll stop be­ing de­fen­sive, says Kathi­rasan. Pay at­ten­tion to your breath to calm down, he adds.

Af­ter that, check in with how you feel. Whether it’s the tem­per­a­ture of your skin, or emo­tions like sad­ness, frus­tra­tion or anger, no­tice them. When you’re mind­ful of these, you won’t re­act in a way you might re­gret, plus you’re more de­lib­er­ate about what you say. The point: to make sure the con­flict isn’t un­nec­es­sar­ily es­ca­lated. USE IT IN YOUR SO­CIAL LIFE: ASK YOUR­SELF IF YOU’RE OVER­RE­ACT­ING It’s not un­usual for col­leagues and friends to vent about hor­ri­ble bosses or ter­ri­ble boyfriends. But in try­ing to sup­port them, your judg­ment some­times gets clouded and you may feel com­pelled to give ad­vice on im­pulse.

Be­ing mind­ful can make you a bet­ter friend. Take a step back and be aware of how your friends’ prob­lems are mak­ing you feel. Cre­at­ing that space helps you re­spond and make de­ci­sions ra­tio­nally rather than add to the neg­a­tive emo­tions.

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