It's pretty hard to avoid 'mindfulness' at the moment. The term is tossed around regularly as a way to achieve happiness and reduce stress, but figuring out how to make it work for you can be a bit tricky.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, mindfulness is "a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique."
In short, you achieve mindfulness by meditating.
We're constantly being told to mediate in order to reduce stress and improve our overall health. But in what magic time continuum are we meant to fit this quiet, mindful mediation in?
The answer is... on your morning commute... Unless you drive to work, in which case try the shower or at the breakfast table.
The idea is, pick an activity in your everyday routine which has to happen regardless of what surprises arise in your day. Pick an activity where you're alone and able to concentrate on the practice of 'being present'.
According to The New York Times, that 45 minutes you're stuck with hordes of other commuters on your way to work is perfect.
“Instead of focusing on how crowded or dirty the subway car is, try to feel the sensations of your own body,” The Times suggests.
The benefits of meditation have been proven time and time again, with scientists claiming the daily ritual could resolve migraines, increase our creativity and even reduce the chances of developing neurodegenerative diseases.
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania say a little bit of daily mediation could improve concentration and our ability to focus, improving in turn our ability to prioritize tasks and enhance productivity.
What's not to like about that?
It's all about how our practiced cognitive functions translate from our meditative states, to when we're sitting at our desks (or your workplace equivalent) fighting against the clock to get whatever needs doing done.
Daily mediation helps us remain focused and calm in periods of extreme stress or pressure.
So once you're on your preferred mode of transport, close your eyes and start to focus on your breath. There are hundreds of audio guides available to help you meditate. And with a little perseverance you'll be able to meditate with eyes open, no audio assistance, anywhere you've got a spare few minutes.
It's normal for your mind to wander when you're just starting out. Most of our internal dialogues reflect our pasts, or predict our futures. Achieving the ability to focus on the present takes practice. The idea behind mindfulness meditation is to accept every and any thought that enters the mind with zero judgement. It's important to observe the patterns of these thoughts with the intention of increasing your ability to remain present each day.
So what are you waiting for? Try and achieve a state of mindfulness on your commute home tonight.