Anzac Day is a national day of remembrance. It provides us with the opportunity to reflect on all the Australian service men and women who sacrificed their lives with courage for our freedom. It allows us to reflect and be grateful. Lest we forget.
This day also provides us with the opportunity to pause and treasure the moments we have with our loved ones. At times however, we can feel that we’re on auto-pilot, and that life is passing us by too quickly. If this is you, practicing mindfulness can help. It can help slow our busy lives.
What is mindfulness and why practice it?
Mindfulness is about paying attention to the present moment, with openness and without making judgements, just observing.
As we’re focusing on the present moment, we are not thinking about the past, nor are we thinking about the future.
It is well documented that the regular practice of mindfulness can bring many health and wellbeing benefits, including:
- stress relief and relaxation
- more calmness and clarity
- increased self-awareness
- increased connection with others and the world around us
- an improvement in focus and memory
In fact, we are at our happiest when we are present, when we are focusing on what we’re currently doing. Our minds though are constantly occupied – we’re often thinking about the past or the future, or we automatically switch to auto-pilot.
So what can we do? How is mindfulness applied?
Life gives us so many opportunities to be mindful and to embrace what’s going on around us. If you want to experience this for yourself, take the time to practice mindfulness today. Start by allowing your thoughts and feelings to be, without judgement – let them come and go, like leaves floating down a stream. Here are some examples:
- If you’re watching the Dawn Service, focus on the bugle calls. What sounds or musical instruments can you hear? What are you feeling as you’re standing in that moment and reflecting on the soldiers’ great sacrifice for our freedom?
- When you’re talking to a loved one, are you truly present and listening, or are you too busy playing with your phone?
- When you’re cooking dinner or washing the dishes, what are you experiencing? Are you reflecting in that moment at the task at hand, or are you possibly thinking about the next part of your day?
- When you’re driving to do the grocery shopping, are you focusing on the present moment? Most of us do not, and we often arrive at our destination, sometimes wondering how we got there!
It takes practice
Like developing any skill, being more mindful throughout the day takes practice. Be patient with yourself and if you can, try and practice a little mindfulness every day.
If you’re not ready just yet, try to remind yourself throughout the day to stop, pause and focus on your breath. Breathe in and out, and observe what this experience is like for you in the present moment. If the mind wanders, that’s okay (it’s natural for the mind to wander), bring it back gently and focus on your breath.
Another quick way to practice mindfulness is to stop and pause, and to then bring your attention to what you can see, to what you can hear, to what you can smell, or to what you’re currently feeling, and to do so, objectively without judgement. It allows us to pause throughout the day and to then proceed to the next part of our day, by bringing more mindfulness to it – by focusing on the present moment.
With practice, mindfulness can help us live more meaningful and happier lives.
How will you incorporate some mindfulness into your day today, and on every day?