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How to Be Mindful

The word on the street is: Love yourself and be mindful. The first part is self explanatory, but ‘Mindfulness’ is something that a lot of people get a bit stuck on. What exactly is it, anyway?

This is the first image on Google Images when you search ‘Mindfulness’. Well done Google Images, this is a great visual depiction of the concept.

Recent thought and literature surrounding mental health has emphasised that we could all – whatever our current state of mental wellbeing – benefit from better looking after our mental health. If you have done your reading on the subject you will have heard of Ruby Wax, self-proclaimed ‘poster girl’ for mental illness, and her book Sane New World (which is worth a read, by the way, for a refreshingly frank and personal approach to the mental health). She is very vocal on Twitter, and writes the occasional article, like this one, in which she preaches the benefits of mindfulness:

‘Mindfulness is an internal weathervane… For me having a means of tuning into my mind, checking the weather conditions and spotting if a storm is coming has saved my life.’

Your own experience does not have to be that extreme for mindfulness to still have a huge positive impact on your life. Gaining that little bit more focus and awareness really can improve your quality of life: it can massively affect your mood and your outlook. When I first came across the idea, about a year ago, in conversation with a friend, all I really understood was that it was something to do with… noticing more things?

That’s almost exactly it (well done me!); Mindfulness involves relearning to notice small things, like a nice doorknocker, or a funny dog, as you walk down the street. It’s like an out of body experience, the first time you consciously tune in to the world around you by zooming out of a negative, repetitive thought or worry. Frank Jude Boccio encapsulates the idea beautifully in his book Mindfulness Yoga: The Awakened Union of Breath, Body and Mind:

‘Mindfulness… is the observing of things as they are…without laying or adding any of our projections onto what is happening’.

I leave you with this brilliant article, in which (if you scroll down), Anna Tyzack presents Ruby Wax’s 14 tips to a ‘happy, calmer, more self-assured and focused you’ (sounds ideal!).

Photos: 1, 2
Mhairi studies English Literature at the University of Bristol and so spends a lot of her waking hours reading novels, plays, essays and poetry. Also writing; she has written for Inter:Mission, the university's culture magazine, and sporadically writes something vaguely remembling poetry...Her desk commands a sweeping view of the city in all its glory, and from her room she likes to listen in on the conversations of the people in the street below (actually, she doesn't have much choice; student house = single glazing). While she loves Bristol, she likes to escape the city (and people) most weekends and regularly haunts the Lake District or Snowdonia with the Expeditions Society.
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