I can’t emphasis enough the importance of being in the moment. That means, not stressing about the past, or worrying about what’s in the future. Anxiety increases when we live in a constant turmoil of ‘why did I say that last week?’ or ‘will I be able to make that speech next month?’
- Helps us relax
- Our sleep improves
- We feel more positive
- Creativity increases
- We lose (or maintain) weight
It’s not hard to fit a spot of mindfulness into your life. In fact, you probably do it without realising.
We all do this, don’t we! You can be mindful of your breathing in so many normal circumstances, such as when you’re sat at your desk or stuck in traffic. Try focusing on your breathing a bit more.
Concentrate on your breathing. Notice the thoughts bubbling up but don’t engage in them. Don’t analyse these thoughts, just notice them and then return to concentrating on your breathing. When I first started doing this exercise, I would quickly slip into my ‘sausage and mash’ moments. That’s the default setting when we stop what we’re doing and sit quietly and our brain starts the inner monologue of ‘what shall I do for tea?’ or ‘did I leave the iron on?’. With practice, you can enjoy longer periods of quiet as the sausage and mash moments diminish.
Breathe in slowly and deeply, letting your lungs expand and contract. Notice your environment – the seat you’re in, the smells around you, etc. Do this for about 5 minutes, and you’ll feel calmer, more grounded, and clearer.
Again, this is something we all do, normally three times a day. That’s three opportunities to be mindful without having to find extra time in your busy routine.
Try to limit the external distractions when you eat; turn off the television, the radio, and leave the magazines alone.
Take your time over the meal you’ve prepared. Savour the smell and the colours. Chew each mouthful at least 8-9 times. Notice the flavours and the texture.
It’s all too easy to jump in the car to get where we want to go, and I understand that. We lead busy lives and can’t always fit in a brisk walk before work, or a jog around the park in our lunch break. However, we can adapt our usual routines and enable us to experience a walking mindfulness exercise.
I used to teach my meditation class this exercise, and they found it to be very useful – in fact, several of my students adapted it for insomnia with great results!
Next time you go to the supermarket, park the furthest point from the door. As you walk across the car park, count your steps. Count 1 – 5, then start again only adding an extra number each time until you get up to 10. Like this:
One, Two, Three, Four, Five
One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six
One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven
All the way up to
One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten
Then start over and count one to five again.
My mind used to wander all the time when I first started doing this, and I’d suddenly count fifteen before I realised I’d lost it. I’d simply start over.
If you can park a decent distance from your office building, then it’s a great exercise to diffuse any tension stored up from a day at your desk. By the time you reach your car after work, you should feel much calmer.
That’s only three simple exercises to help you fit a spot of mindfulness into your day. Give it a try and see how much calmer you feel after just a few days.
Do you have a top tip on mindfulness? Share it in the comments below and help others to find some peace and balance.