In this post we explore mindfulness. What is it? How does it work? How do I do it?
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a technique you can learn which involves making a special effort to notice what's happening in the present moment (in your mind, body and surroundings). It has roots in Buddhism and meditation, but you don't have to be spiritual, or have any particular beliefs, to try it.
It aims to help you:
- become more self-aware
- feel calmer and less stressed
- feel more able to choose how to respond to your thoughts and feelings
- cope with difficult or unhelpful thoughts
- be kinder towards yourself.
Many people find practising mindfulness helps them manage their day-to-day wellbeing, but it doesn't always work for everyone.
How does mindfulness work?
The way we think (and what we think about) can affect how we feel and act. For example, if you think or worry a lot about upsetting past or future events, you might often feel sad or anxious.
The theory behind mindfulness is that by using various techniques to bring your attention to the present (usually focusing on your body and your breathing), you can:
- Notice how thoughts come and go in your mind. You may learn that they don't have to define who you are, or your experience of the world, and you can let go of them.
- Notice what your body is telling you. For example, tension or anxiety can often be felt in your body (such as in a fast heartbeat, tense muscles or shallow breathing).
- Create space between you and your thoughts, so you can react more calmly.
The Oxford Mindfulness Centre has more information about mindfulness and how it works. I came across TOMC when Francis, one of our Trustees showed us the link to their podcasts!
How do I do it?
Mindfulness is available to us in every moment, whether through meditations and body scans, or mindful moment practices like taking time to pause and breathe when the phone rings instead of rushing to answer it.
Mind has a list of easy exercises to try today! Remember mindful thinking takes practice and patience but really helps keep you calm and focus on the here and now. Click here to go to their website and give them a try!
This useful website, mindful.org, has a great page on getting started with mindfulness. It talks about the basics of mindful practice, how to meditate and this one I particularly liked, 5 steps to wind down and fall asleep!
There are so many ways we can be mindful in our lives.
Well this pretty much speaks for itself. Arts & crafts have long been known to have therapeutic benefits and we wholeheartedly agree!
Colouring is great and can be picked up and put down whenever you feel like it. There are so many websites where you can download & print and actual colouring books are available now, from the budget stores right up to the higher end and more complex designs, with themes, like Harry Potter etc
I have found a few websites for you here with downloadable pictures, bu there are many more:
Twinkl - Twinkl has a bumper back to download, we use this alot, it says a kids pack but I think its suitable for adults too, some of it's quite detailed!
betweensessions.com - They have a 9 page booklet!
favecrafts - Have 43 different pages to chose from
Guided Body Scan
Body scanning is very relaxing. By mentally scanning yourself from head to toe, many people imagine a laser copier scanning the length of their body, you are bringing awareness to every single part of your body, noticing any aches, pains, tension, or general discomfort. Staying present and breathing into these sensations can help bring relief to our minds and bodies. Research shows that mindfulness meditation, and body scan meditation in particular has many mental and physical benefits including reducing stress, increasing focus, and improving sleep.
Mindful.org have a whole page on beginners body scan and a 30 minute audio body scan for beginners!
Click here to go to the website and give it a go. All you need is somewhere to get comfortable.
Now this is one of my personal favourites! I did this with my kids & husband in the Easter Break (think sleepy lions time) and it was interesting to see them all relax. Turn the lights off, shut the curtains, light a candle (safely or fake tealights with young children, never leave them unattended), lie back on comfy pillows or duvets with plenty of room.
The 10 minute youtube video talks you through a walk on the beach. You don't need to be able to see the screen, just hear it, so you can do it on your phones and turn the volume up. There are many like this on youtube / the internet, some other good ones are wilderness walks and hot air balloon rides. You will be amazed at how strongly you can visualise things and it really calmed everyone down (I may or may not have dozed off!).
Follow the link here and give it a try.