Mindfulness

Can you think of a time when you asked a question without listening to the answer?

Have you ever been thinking about work at home only to find yourself at work thinking about home?

How much of your day would you say is spent in the actual moment, rather than reflecting on the past or planning for the future?

Here at Hot Dog Yoga, our goal is mindful movement. But what is mindfulness? Quite simply, it’s the practice of focusing your attention on the present moment - and accepting it without judgment.

This short YouTube video has a great explanation:

We all have the capacity for this awareness, so why not develop it?

Mindfulness is not a technique, although there are many ways to cultivate mindfulness. For example, you can focus on your natural breathing or on a word / mantra that you repeat silently. You can notice subtle body sensations such as an itch or tingling or you can notice sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and touches in your environment. Letting thoughts arise is not counter to the effective practice of mindfulness, in fact it is an important part of it. It provides the magic moment for the essential piece of mindfulness practice—the piece that researchers believe leads to healthier, more agile brains: the moment when you recognize that your mind has wandered. Because if you can notice that your mind has wandered, then you can consciously bring it back to the present moment. The more you do this, the more likely you are to be able to do it again and again.

In addition to formal meditation, you can also cultivate mindfulness informally by focusing your attention on one thing at a time. As you brush your teeth, pet the dog, or eat a banana, slow down the process and be fully present as it unfolds and involves all of your senses.

Jon Kabat-Zinn, creator of the research-backed stress-reduction program Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), has a classic raisin-eating meditation – a led mindfulness exercise using all the senses. Give it a go!