Mindfulness. Meditation. Taking a minute. Navel-gazing. Self-indulgent contemplation of oneself. Useless? Maybe. Maybe not.
If you are like me, and you struggle to take a minute for yourself, you may be in the same boat I am – struggling to wrap your head around mindfulness. My mother bought me a book called ‘Hurry up and Meditate’…six years ago…I never finished it.
It turns out mindfulness is much more simple than barricading yourself in a zen room and chanting to whale music with the smell of incense around you. It can be short, simple little exercises which I have really tried to practice myself.
Taking a minute to have a stretch, rest your eyes and have a yawn. Don’t feel like yawning? Pretend, then you will actually yawn pretty soon after. Particularly if you work in front of a computer, the eye rest is really important. Try to do this every hour, event if you just pick 1 or 2 stretches.
Breathing exercises. How many of you, like me breathe very shallowly? When was the last time you really took a deep breath in and paid attention to it? My Mum passed along to me the 4-7-8 breathing exercise, also known as the ‘Relaxing Breath’. It takes no equipment, can be done anywhere and helps with stress almost immediately. How? Exhale completely through your mouth, make it audible. Close your mouth and inhale through your nose, counting to four. Hold your breath for seven. Exhale again, through your mouth over eight. Now do this three more times.
Mindfully eat something. It sounds funny, but if you are scoffing food mindlessly at your desk, on the couch, or whilst working (who else eats their lunch at their work desk and forgets to take a breath?). Use all of your senses to eat something, touch it, smell it and sense it. Savour its taste. Grapes are a good starter food for this.
Be kind about where your mind wanders. Our brains are such amazing things, really – don’t fight your thoughts. Just for one minute, go with it, follow the trail your brain wants to go down. Don’t react, just go with it. Practice your breathing and pay attention to any common themes. It might be what your brain wants to focus on.
Listen to a song you love. Put your headphones in. Listen to the song, listen to the words, feel the music. Take a moment for yourself and enjoy the senses of music.
There are also a stack of mindfulness apps available for your smart phone. The top five which pop up in the App store when I search for them are:
*The Mindfulness App; and
*Mindfulness: The Art of Being Human
I have tried Calm, Headspace and Smiling Mind and have liked all three of them. You will need to find what works for you, please share with me any hints or tips you have!
These may or may not work for you, but the above five I have found to be very helpful. One day I might even have the patience for mediation, but for now – those listed above are what helps me :).
Thank you for reading, as always.
x C x
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x C x