Practising mindfulness and meditation are ways to calm our frenzied minds. The scientific results coming out about the benefits are compelling. They’ve been shown to boost health, happiness, self control, social connections and improve productivity The science is still not 100% clear on exactly how much or what type we need to practice to benefit but it seems even a small amount can help.
Mindfulness is bringing our mind back to the present moment. It’s an awareness that our thoughts, feelings and impulses are not permanent and do not define who we are (unless we let them). It’s understanding that we all experience sadness, anger and frustration but we can learn not to let these emotions control us.
5 of my current mindfulness practices
1. 10-15 minute guided meditations. I aim to do roughly five a week, usually eight or fifteen minutes each. I use a CD of eight guided meditations that a friend gave me years ago and that are saved on anold iPod in the top drawer of my beside table. I always lie down when i do them, not necessarilly best practice but it works for me. The aim is not to empty our mind of thoughts but to recognize that thoughts keep popping up but we can then bring our attention back to the breath (or the body or whatever we are focusing on). I’m definitely not an expert, and and i don’t always feel like doing it, but I do feel it’s helped me be more aware of where my mind is going.
2 Practicing RAIN.
* Recognising what i am feeling – I feel angry/sad/lonely/annoyed
* Allow ourselves to feel it – sit with it, fight the impulse to distract myself straight away
* Investigate where in my body i feel it – my chest feels tight/ my head is throbbing/ I feel an ache in my gut
* Non-Identification – just because I feel angry in this moment it doesn’t make me an angry person
The ‘Allow ourselves to feel it’ part is the trickiest. I feel like this isn’t something we’re taught how to do and the impulse to distract ourselves is strong.
3. Peace Kindness Happiness thoughts. I do this almost every time i’m on the tube. I will look at my fellow passengers, one at a time, and wish them peace, kindness and happiness. It’s great for getting me out of my head and makes me feel warmth towards these strangers who are in my life for a brief time. I also try to remember to do it when i am feeling angry or annoyed at someone. I picture their faces and wishing them peace and kindness and happiness somehow seems to soften the negative feelings.
4. Focusing on my feet as I walk. I focus on the pressure on my heels and then my toes as my foot rolls forward and how my calves feel as I’m striding. It’s a great way to bring my mind back to the current moment. I’m not sure if i’ve ever managed to do it for more than a minute or so before my mind starts wandering but it does seem to help stop it churning for a minute or two.
5 Bringing my focus to my senses. Similar to focusing on my feet, several times each day I also try to bring my focus to my senses. Right now what do i hear? Smell? See? Feel?
1. 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works – A True Story by Dan Harris. Reading this book convinced me to start meditating regularly.
2. Slow Your Home meditation podcast: The simple art of meditation with Kevin Janks http://slowyourhome.com/135/
3. Insight Timer – a free App with guided meditations
4. 20 Scientific Reasons to Start Meditating Today https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/feeling-it/201309/20-scientific-reasons-start-meditating-today