Mind

Michelle Reed

10 benefits of cultivating mindfulness in your life

10 benefits of cultivating mindfulness in your life

We’ve heard it time and time again: if you want to destress, find time to relax and let go of anxiety you need to try mindfulness. But if you’ve never done it before – and let’s be honest, you’re feeling a tad skeptical about the whole thing – where do you begin? That’s where Jane Martino and James Tutton’s new book Smiling Minds comes in. Its mindfulness made easy for the everyday person who wants to give mindfulness meditation a go but has no idea how to begin.

As James explained to Over60, “I think there are a lot of mindfulness books out there but very few come to the topic with the voice of a lay person. We are not experts, and we don't profess to be and by taking this position we hope to be able to make it more accessible.”

Charting their own journey from sceptic to success story, James and Jane guide you through the basics of mindfulness and provide useful tips they’ve picked up in their own messy lives. Make no mistake, James and Jane lives aren’t perfect (whose is?) and they both admit they still have their bad days, but mindfulness has made a big difference to their lives. They wrote the book in order to spread the message that mindfulness can make a positive impact to your life, and there’s no time like the present to start.

“There is a view that meditation and mindfulness are things that people who are unwell need to use. This truly misses the point,” says James. “Mental and emotional health are just like physical health and what we've known for a long time regarding diet, exercise and sleep have similar drivers in regard to emotional health. Stress, anxiety, lack of social connection - these things make us unwell and we need to use tools and take actions just like we do with our physical health to ensure that we stay fit in our minds, bodies and souls.”

Still not convinced? Here James and Jane list just five benefits of mindfulness they’ve discovered since they began their journey. You can reap the benefits too if you give it a try.

Here is James’s list of the five personal benefits he’s found by cultivating mindfulness in his life:

1. Stress busting.

I find that if I don’t meditate and cultivate mindfulness in my day, I do enter a world of the ‘monkey mind’. When I’m stressed out, I get caught up in my own thoughts. That’s when I describe my mind as a revolving to-do list that forgets to do everything. I can lose my cool and my modus operandi can leave a lot to be desired.

2. Being present.

If there is one reason alone to give mindfulness a try, it is to be more present with people you love, to be in the moment and able to give your loved ones the attention they deserve. Mindfulness makes me a more loving father, partner, friend and business guy.

3. Making friends with yourself.

My experience in life is that the first step towards peace with the world is making peace with yourself—it’s like an oxygen mask on a plane: you need your own mask on before you help those around you—and acceptance, self-love and awareness come through mindfulness.

4. Dealing with uncertainty.

This is a really big one for me. With mindfulness, I am no longer constantly looking for the quick answer and instant ‘solution’. I’m less likely to say, ‘I am absolutely certain about that.’ I accept now that uncertainty is the only certainty we have. It doesn’t mean I don’t make plans, but I no longer hold the deluded belief that I can be certain about how things are going to turn out.

5. Noticing the little things (and they become big things).

It might sound corny, but mindfulness does make little things in life really wonderful. For me it’s the first coffee of the day; it’s the special spoon I always put out with my daughter’s porridge, with her favorite bowl; it’s morning sunshine. If you practise mindfulness, you will notice really remarkable things. You find out the things that you really value, as opposed to blindly going about your day chasing things that society says you should value.

Here is Jane’s list of the five personal benefits he’s found by cultivating mindfulness in his life:

1. Coping better.

There is no doubt this is the number-one thing I have noticed since I started meditating. So much so, whenever I fall ‘off the wagon’ and do not meditate regularly I experience a noticeable difference in my ability for things to bother me… or not.

2. Noticing things others don’t.

I don’t mean this in a competitive way, but because you are more focused on being ‘in the moment’, you simply notice and take pleasure in the ‘smaller things’, and you seek out lots of special gestures and experiences that make life grand.

3.Feeling things more —or less.

Meditation makes you more empathetic and tuned in to your feelings and those of others. Do not panic, you won’t become a blubbering mess, you will simply be more aware of how you are feeling and therefore be able to address it accordingly. This also means you will be able to ‘let go’ more easily and not hang on to negative feelings as you may have in the past.

4. Increasing your energy levels.

They say twenty minutes of meditation is equivalent to more than triple that amount of shut-eye—and I believe it as there is a noticeable difference between my energy levels when I do and don’t meditate regularly.

5. Being more in tune with your body.

For me and my ‘I need to conquer the world’ tendencies, this is an important gift that meditation has bestowed—it allows me to know when to stop, slow down or simply address any health issue I sense may be brewing. This is crucial in keeping my batteries charged.

This is an edited extract from Smiling Mind by James Tutton & Jane Martino published by Hardie Grant Books RRP$19.99 and is available in stores nationally.

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