Research indicates that we spend half of our waking hours being distracted. We’re busier than ever and our fight or flight response is in overdrive. Leave all of that unchecked and its a slippery slope to depression and anxiety for some people. Luckily, there are tools to take it down a notch, including mindfulness.
Mandy Dore and Dr Carrie Hayward, the duo behind Madam Heap (Middle Park’s new home for mindfulness practice) have been mates since prep. They’re also both experienced meditators and mindfulness practitioners. They explain mindfulness as paying attention on purpose. “It sounds so simple, but it’s amazing how little we do it,” Dore says. “Most of the time our mind is wandering, living in the past or the future – we’re not actually here in the moment embracing life.”
Mindfulness has formal and informal components. Meditation is the formal aspect – Dore finds it so powerful that describes it as her “secret weapon”. The informal component of mindfulness is equally as important and requires complete attention on what you’re doing and engaging all of your senses – pause and pay attention to what you can you hear, taste, smell and see.
Top tips for mindfulness
Here are some of Hayward’s suggestions for developing mindfulness:
“Be flexible: mindfulness is important, but you can’t be mindful all the time. Commit to one activity for which you are going to be more present and attentive.”
“Keep it simple: the process of mindfulness is not complex – it’s just about paying attention. At Madam Heap we often talk about “taking one moment” to be mindful. That’s all it takes – just one moment to pay attention, right now."
“Be practical: bring mindfulness to wherever you are and whatever you’re doing. Whether it’s driving, stopping at a red light, catching a tram, having a shower, cleaning your teeth or washing the dishes. Use these everyday activities to practice mindfulness by bringing your attention back to that activity and what is going on in that moment (for example, if you’re washing the dishes, can you feel the hot water, can you smell the washing-up liquid, can you hear the plates clink in the sink etc).”
“Make it sustainable: one of the hardest things about mindfulness is continuing to do it. However, regular and ongoing meditation practice builds your mindfulness muscle. If you’re meditating regularly, you’re more likely to be mindful throughout your day.”
Contact Madam Heap for details of drop in classes and courses