Mindfulness Guided Meditations

In the last few blog posts, we've had a brief look at mindfulness and how it can be of benefit in our day to day lives.  There are many websites and courses out there which can help you explore this more in depth, however I wanted to share one very useful website, The Mindful Awareness Research Center. 

As well as providing more information around mindfulness, they also provide free guided meditations as well as on-line classes.  You can find more information here:  http://marc.ucla.edu/body.cfm?id=22

 

The Be Mindful website is also extremely useful (http://bemindful.co.uk/), giving more insights, online courses and a free stress test to see how you would benefit from Mindfulness.

 

If you've tried Mindfulness yourself or have any questions around it, we'd love to hear from you!  In our next blog post, we're going to begin taking a look at emotions, exploring their importance in our lives and the impact on our health.  We hope you can join us there! 

Mindfulness at work

Continuing our look at Mindfulness, this week we are going to see how it can be used to combat the stress and anxiety of work.

Work is an important part of life – not only for income, but because it provides an outlet for self-expression and personal fulfilment.  But despite the benefits a career can bring, it can also be a significant source of stress. Some of us find it hard to establish a healthy work/life balance, and this can lead to mind and body exhaustion. Exhaustion can make it harder to deal with life’s ups and downs.

In order to enjoy your working life and ease daily stress, we recommend incorporating the following mindfulness tips into your day:

Stop multitasking

A common source of daily stress is juggling multiple projects at once. While this may seem a more productive way to work, studies show that it is actually ineffective. Switching from one task to the next trips up the brain and takes away the ability to focus. Concentrating on one thing at a time can help you to focus on the present moment and improve your efficiency. 

Set regular mindful check ins 

Setting a gentle alarm to go off at regular intervals during the day will act as a reminder for you to step away from your work, pause and rest your mind. Aim for a mindful check in every hour. This will help you to refocus your mind and ease stress as it accumulates throughout the day.

Decorate your workspace with visual reminders   

Visual reminders – such as a photograph of your loved ones or colourful images – can help to bring you back to mindfulness whenever you catch sight of them. You may even want to write yourself positive, mood-boosting notes and stick them to your wall. These will remind you to check in and focus on the present moment.

Mindfulness check in practice 

When you find a moment to be mindful, start by taking a slow, deep breath and use this sensation to take awareness of your physical body and how it feels. Can you feel areas of tension? Feelings of energy or tiredness? Notice the environment around you (what can you hear/smell?) and how your clothes feel against your skin.

Next, turn your attention to your thoughts and emotional state. What thoughts are running through your mind? What emotions are present? Use this focus to open yourself up to the goings-on around you. Tune into the whole present moment and proceed with awareness.

This process can take as little as 30 seconds or up to 10 minutes – depending on how long you feel you need to pause and take a step back from your working day.  

It may seem that this practice detracts from the time you spend actually doing work, but you'll soon find that a short mindfulness break will allow you to feel more focussed, more motivated and much more productive in you work.  So why not give it a go and see where it leads you! 

In our next post, I'll be sharing some great websites with you where you can find some guided mindfulness meditation downloads!

An introduction to mindfullness

You may have heard the term ‘mindfulness’ before, but many people are unaware of what mindfulness is and how it can be extremely beneficial, not only to those going through periods of emotional difficulty, but for everyone else as well.  Along with the likes of Yoga and Meditation, mindfulness can help the body and mind to relax, allowing improvements in concentration, focus and stress levels. 

Over the coming blog posts, we'll be exploring mindfulness along with ways to incorporate it into your everyday life.  In this post, we are going to take a brief look at what it is and a basic mindfulness exercise which you can begin at home.

 


Mindfulness is a technique of becoming fully aware of yourself in the present moment. Studies show that people who practice this technique experience positive changes in their lives, including better focus, reduced stress and improved self-esteem.

In mindfulness we learn to stop making judgements about what is ‘positive’ or ‘negative’. We simply learn to accept our thoughts as thoughts. Although the technique stems from Eastern thought and Zen Buddhism, medical professionals are only now beginning to recognise the health benefits of applying these practices to everyday life. Studies show it has a measurable effect on brain processes, and can be used to help people with depression.

Here’s a seven step guide to a basic mindfulness exercise:

1. Make time

Mindfulness only needs to take 10 minutes out of your day. Commit to this 10 minutes – make it a part of your routine, just as breakfast is, or walking the dog is. Ideally you will practice mindfulness at the same time everyday (to get your body used to the routine) but this is not imperative. Simply choose a time when you’re least likely to be disturbed.

2. Find space

Whether it’s your spare room, your garden shed, or the living room before the rest of the family are up – make sure you set out a space of your own where you can practice mindfulness without being interrupted. Make sure you turn your phone off, close the door and turn off all TVs, radios and any other distractions.

3. Get comfy

Mindfulness isn’t about punishment – you’re allowed to be comfy! Sit on the sofa if you like, or put a cushion on the floor. Make sure your back is straight and let your hands fall in your lap.

4. Breathe slowly

Take five, slow breaths breathing in as deeply as possible. On the fifth breath, shut your eyes.

5. Focus on now

Now think about how your body feels, how the cushion or floor feels against your legs, how the room smells and any other sensations. Let these thoughts drift through your mind but don’t think about the implications, just the facts.

6. Relax

Staying still for 10 minutes is more difficult than you think. As your mind focuses on the present moment, it’s likely it will try to wander to other things, like what you’re going to do after the 10 minutes is up, or all the other things that are normally on your mind. Don’t panic – you’re not doing it wrong. Every time your mind wanders, simply bring it back by focusing on the position of your body and the sensation of oxygen filling your lungs.

7. Ease yourself into the day

When the 10 minutes is up, make a goal for the day – even if it seems small and insignificant. It could be to go and make a cup tea, or it could be to go and make a start on your work. As you get on with your daily tasks, think back to your 10 minutes of mindfulness, and how it felt to focus entirely on the present moment.

 

In later posts, we'll be looking into this technique further at introducing new mindfulness exercises for you to try at home!