October 3, 2022 0 Comments Mindfulness

How can you have more control over your actions and behaviour?

Thoughts drive every action and behaviour. Most of the time we are not aware of these thoughts occurring or what they are and spend a lot of our lives on auto pilot. The space between an event and reaction is so small, it usually goes unnoticed and consequently we respond and react impulsively. We spend much of our life on auto-pilot – do you remember really tasting your last meal?

What if you could be aware of that tiny small space and not instantly react when something stressful or unwanted happens? Instead you could be aware and pay attention to those thoughts, know how you are feeling and take time to have control over what your response, behaviour and next action will be?


That created space of being aware of your thoughts, enabling you to step back from them and pressing pause is part of mindfulness. There is not one agreed definition of mindfulness, however essentially it is a set of psychological skills that involve paying attention with openness, kindness, curiosity and flexibility. Notice the word ‘skills’; mindfulness is learnt and just like any other skill needs to be practiced. For example, you don’t just pick up a guitar and know how to play or get into a car and know how to drive. You have lessons and practice and then know how to do these things. Mindfulness is no different.

When mindfulness techniques are applied we:

  • have more control over our actions
  • improve our self-knowledge to learn and understand more how we feel, think and react
  • become more aware of our thoughts
  • are more used to the ‘being’ state of mind which is associated with relaxation (‘doing’ mode is more associated with the stress response)
  • are more aware of our physical needs
  • are more aware of the emotions of loved ones
  • are better able to focus
  • are more able to ground ourselves when faced with overwhelming emotions
  • are able to adopt the qualities of kindness, openness and flexibility (for ourselves and others)

The next fundamental question is HOW? There is a common misunderstanding that to practice mindfulness you need to meditate. It is okay if you feel meditation is not for you, there are other ways to gain the same results without formal meditation practice.  There are also short meditations of 5/10 minutes (or even less) if time is more the problem. In short, there are ways to learn mindfulness that suit everyone.

To begin mindful practice is to be aware, out of auto-pilot and in the present moment. The following simple exercise highlights how common it is for us to be in auto-pilot and to miss what is happening in the present moment as our awareness is so often limited. Once we learn how to be in the moment and to pay attention to our inner thoughts and emotions, we are able to have control over our behaviour and not impulsively react.

Mindful Walking
This is a variant on a walking meditation and is all about awareness.
Take a 5-10 minute walk, it will work best in a park or green space but if you don’t have access to this, don’t worry it can be done anywhere (some people prefer to do it in their garden or on the road they live on).
Try and ensure you won’t be distracted and your phone is on silent (with vibrate turned off)!

  1. Just before you start walking take 3 deep breaths (breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth).
  2. When you start walking, focus on how your feet are touching the ground, how one foot is moving in-front of the other (you can even say to yourself “lift, move, down” to the movement of your feet).
  3. After a couple of minutes shift your attention to what you can hear. There may be birds, cars, planes, sound of the wind against trees, people etc. It doesn’t matter what the sounds are, the important thing is the focus of attention on the sounds.
  4. If your attention wanders just bring it back to what you can hear around you. It’s completely normal for your mind to wander and happens to all of us.
  5. Now bring your attention to what you can see. Look at colours/objects – anything that is in your vision. This could be trees, houses, people, animals etc.
  6. After a couple of minutes shift your attention to smells. Can you smell anything, what’s it like?
  7. Now bring your attention back to the act of walking, of putting one foot in-front of the other – lift, move, down. Notice how the rest of your body feels whilst walking.
  8. To end just stand still for a few seconds and continue on with your day.

Here are some questions to reflect on your mindful walking exercise.

How was it?
Did you notice things that were surprising and you hadn’t noticed previously?
How did you feel at the beginning and at the end – was there a difference?
Did you notice your mind wandering and going into auto-pilot?
Do you remember what sort of things your mind was thinking about when this happened?

If you would like an audio of this to listen to whilst walking please just get in touch and I will send it to you (for free)!

This is just one of many different exercises and techniques to practice focusing awareness, being in the present moment and getting used to being aware of our thoughts.

If you would like to find out more about working with me, please book a free 30-minute telephone consultation.