Usually, after not writing for 2 weeks I’d start this post with an apology- however this time, I’m not. I’ve learned how important it is not to apologise for taking time to yourself. The last month has been hectic with plans after plans (which I am forever thankful for)- nevertheless, no time to ourselves can take its toll. When things get busy its important to treat the mind & body with kindness with an aim to reduce stress & allow you to enjoy these experiences. This has prompted the topic of this weeks blog post- Mindfulness.
According to www.mindful.org (& they’re bound to know their stuff), Mindfulness is “the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, & not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.”. It’s about having awareness for our thoughts, emotions and environment. When I talk about Mindfulness people often believe it is identical to Meditation, which isn’t completely true. Despite these practices complimenting each other, Mindfulness is a lot simpler & quicker, allowing it to be done any time, anywhere. It could be as brief as taking a deep breath before answering a phone call.
Both Mindfulness and Meditation do however stem from lessons from Buddha. Buddhism teaches that you should know your mind, train your mind & free the mind. Buddha himself referred to it as “the path to enlightenment” (apparently)- but it must have some benefits if we’re still practising it 2600 years later- right?
Mindfulness Based Interventions (MBIs) are used in Mental Health alongside other self-help & therapies due to the vast benefits they have. It helps us to recognise our emotions- the good & the bad. It has the ability to allow us to think more clearly about the decisions we make & make more purposeful choices. Mindfulness can empower us, help us to develop a more positive relationship with ourselves & ensure we’re more focused throughout the day. Each person will experience mindfulness in a different way & could probably add lots more benefits to this list.
So, how do I practice Mindfulness? There is no right or wrong way. The more you do this, the more benefits you will notice. Start by taking some time & mindfully using all of your senses. Let’s take going for a walk as an example. Take time to look around. What can you see? Take in the little details. Are there any smells? Anything you can feel? How warm/ cold are you? What can you hear? Where are you? Is it quiet? Lots of traffic? What can you hear in the distance? Take in your surroundings & don’t try to make your mind go completely quiet- rather direct your focus on your environment. It’s natural for your mind to wander- try to refocus.
You can do this throughout the day no matter where you are, who you are with or what you’re doing. Meditation however requires a peaceful environment & time to clear your mind.
When practising Meditation sit comfortably (but not slouched in the sofa or in bed- you don’t want to fall asleep). Relax your eyes- open or closed depending how you feel most comfortable. Think about how you are feeling both physically & mentally.
The most common meditation practice for beginners is to be mindful about your breathing. Focus on how it feels when you breathe in & out. Notice the rise & fall of your chest. When you find your mind begin to wander, refocus back to your breath.
Another meditation practice I find helpful is to “Body Scan”. To focus my mind on different parts of my body- starting at my toes & working all the way up to my head thinking about what they feel like, where they are positioned & if there is any pressure on them (i.e. from clothing, the way I’m sitting, etc.). This is particularly good for stress relief if you tense the muscles of each part of your body as you go. I always tense for 5 seconds & release slowly.
It can be difficult to get started. If you would find guided mindfulness/ meditation easier- here are a few from YouTube that I love.
What do you think of Mindfulness? Do you have any tips? Share them below!
Until next time,
Love, Kayleigh Rose x