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Mindfulness for Modern Life tip 1: everything can mindful

Whilst meditation is a very helpful way of practicing the skills of awareness, acceptance, compassion and non-judgement, the real benefits are in bringing mindfulness to everyday activities.

Natalie Rossiter mindfulness

Earlier this week, I was taught the value of mindfulness in a potentially unexpected place; my local swimming baths.

As I made my way up and down the pool I noticed the aching in my limbs that was swiftly followed by a stream of negative thoughts about my body and fitness levels. I didn't think I could do as many lengths as I'd expected and I felt disappointed. What had been an enjoyable activity moments ago had quickly taken a turn. If I'd left my mind to it's own devices, with negativity bias and the inner critic at the helm, I'd possibly had left in a worse mental state than I'd entered.

mindful swimming

Luckily - though this isn't what I thought initially - I then got stuck swimming behind an older gent. I didn't have the energy to overtake so I slowed down to match his steady pace. As soon as I did so, I became more aware of the feeling of the water around me, holding me up. My limbs ached less and my movements felt more flowing. I remembered that moving my body in way that feels good is what matters, not the speed or the distance, At the end of the lane I took a short rest, stretching my legs out in the water. I then felt re energised and went on to swim more lengths than I thought I would; slowly, calmly and happily gliding up and down, relishing the sensations.

"To meditate means to go home to yourself. Then you know how to take care of the things that are happening inside you, and you know how to take care of the things that happen around you." - Thich Nhat Hanh

My swim became my meditation for the day as well as physical exercise; I noticed my breath in time with my strokes, the water against my skin, the sounds of the pool. I felt grateful to my body and for having the time to take care of myself in this way. I mentally sent good wishes to my fellow swimmers, especially the chap who inadvertently reminded me that rushing and pushing is not the way I want to live.

I listened to my body, instead of berating it, enjoying the physical challenge and stopping before I felt exhausted. I took my swim one stroke at a now....and now.

"If you abandon the present moment, you cannot live the moments of your daily life deeply." - Thich Nhat Hanh

My morning swim was a reminder that mindfulness practice has the power to make the mundane feel magical, and that slowing down and resting is often the way to go further. There are no words that capture the spirit of mindful living better for me than this poem, which I shall leave you with in the hope it inspires you to find mindful moments in your daily life too.

The Orange, by Wendy Cope

At lunchtime I bought a huge orange

The size of it made us all laugh.

I peeled it and shared it with Robert and Dave

They got quarters and I had a half.

And that orange, it made me so happy,

As ordinary things often do

Just lately. The shopping. A walk in the park.

This is peace and contentment. It’s new.

The rest of the day was quite easy.

I did all the jobs on my list

And enjoyed them and had some time over.

I love you. I’m glad I exist.

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