“Breath is the bridge which connects life to consciousness, which unites your body to your thoughts. Whenever your mind becomes scattered use your breath as the means to take hold of your mind again." - Thich Nhat Hanh
Mindfulness – just breathe, just be
We hear the term Mindfulness frequently these days, but what is it exactly? It’s basically spending more time focusing on what is going on in the present moment. Right, that sounds so easy, but with our overly busy minds churning out thoughts which are spiralling out of control we find it quite difficult to practice it regularly.
We can make more time to slow down by incorporating mindfulness, meditation, yoga, mindfulness walking or just sitting in the garden for 10 minutes with a cup of tea and just observing your inner thoughts and emotions. Making slowing down, some time out, a regular practice reduces stress, anxiety and depression.
The culture of busyness
The term being busy all the time has become so familiar in our daily life. When we ask how someone how they are we hear the usual default response of “I’m fine thanks but very busy”. We seem to enjoy the fact of being overly busy, it validates our worth. If we are booked up and in demand with no hour to spare it reassures us that our lives are not meaningless. If we carry on like this it will eventually lead to stress-related illnesses and burnout.
Sometimes we have the need to be busy because of family, work commitments and when you feel the entire world needs you. By taking time to slow down and bringing our focus on being more mindful we can deal with challenging events with more ease. When we focus on the present, the here and now, we are less likely to worry about the future and delve into the past.
Some points to consider
- Practice mindfulness/meditation
- Immerse yourself in an exercise regime that is good for the mind as well as the body, i.e yoga, tai chi, qi gong
- Do not do the comparison thing, we’ve all done it, it’s easily done especially in this digital age of social media. Be your unique self and live YOUR life, don’t compare yourself to anyone else.
- Get rid of the to-do-list, having 20 or so things that you feel you should be getting done is only going to be stressful, keep it to 2 or 3 important things you really, really need to do that day, the rest can wait.
- Revaluate your commitments and kids activities etc. Practising being mindful and slowing down will help you have a clearer understanding of what commitments are not serving you anymore or bringing you joy. Focus on what is important to you, make that a priority and get rid of the rest.
- Say “No” more often to stop over committing yourself, create some white space in your diary, we can make wiser choices.
- Keep things simple, sometimes less is more
Try the breathing exercise below, doing this a few times a day will give you a break from all of the madness and keep you focused and centered. The exercise is a way to move from autopilot mode and reconnect with the present moment, 3 steps of roughly 1 minute each.
You can also try the guided version here at http://franticworld.com/free-meditations-from-mindfulness/
Three-minute Breathing Space meditation
1. Becoming aware
Deliberatley adopt an erect and dignified posture, whether sitting or standing. If possible, close your eyes, or softly gaze downwards. Then ask yourself:
What is my experience right now? What thoughts are going through the mind?
What feelings are here ? What body sensations are here right now?
Observe and acknowledge these experiences even if they are uncomfortable
2. Gathering and focusing attention
Now, redirecting your full attention to your breathing. Focusing on each in-breath and each out-breath. Follow the breath all the way in and all the way out. Use each breath as an opportunity to anchor yourself into the present. If your mind wanders just gently bring it back to the breath.
3. Expanding attention
Expand the field of awareness around the breathing so that it includes a sense of the body as a whole. Include your posture and facial expression, as if the whole body was breathing. If you become aware of any sensations of discomfort or tension, bring your focus of attention to it, reconnecting with the present moment as you find it - your thoughts, feelings, sensations - whatever they are doing at the time, accept them and don't try to change them in any way. Just explore and be aware of them.
After the 3 minutes take a deep breath to finish and bring your sense of awareness back.
I am a Complementary Therapist and Reiki Master/Teacher offering a range of therapies to help you achieve maximum relaxation and well-being, both on a physical and on an emotional level. I am a member of The Reiki Connection and a verified Reiki Practioner.
I am also registered with the CNHC which is the UK voluntary register for complementary healthcare practitioners. The CNHC quality mark is a guarantee that therapists on this register meet national standards of practice in their work and are properly trained, qualified and insured.