Over the last few years, there has been a surge in interest in mindfulness practices.
Instagram has helped drive this forward and there are multiple mindfulness apps available that have made it all more accessible for the masses. The rise in mental health conditions and the fact that it's now ‘ok’ to talk about it openly with others means the world needs and is more open to supporting that is cost-effective and works. That is where mindfulness practices come in.
But what is a mindfulness practice and how can you use it to help improve your health?
Mindfulness practice can be either in stillness or in movement and the main focus of the practice is to be intensely aware of how you feel in the moment without judgment.
We can train ourselves over time to be more aware and we use mindfulness practices to help us do that. The aim of regular practice is to become more mindful in our everyday life and this in turn helps us to better deal with some of what life throws at us.
We will still have negative emotions, stress, and anxiety but by becoming more aware of them we can alter how we react in challenging situations.
The most common practice to help develop this skill is meditation.
Meditation is one of the most powerful tools in stress and emotional management but it’s often very misunderstood. Many people believe that you need to meditate for hours and sit in a cross-legged position on top of a mountain… Well far from it.
Meditation is personal and there are many ways of doing it. You can meditate for as little as 1min at a time and still get a benefit and you can also meditate almost anywhere.
Obviously the more you practice and the more aware you become, the more effective your meditation will be, but we all have to start somewhere.
Regular practice of meditation has been shown to reduce stress, anxiety, and negative emotions. It is also a great tool to calm yourself down when your temper flares. Many people perform it in their working day when they are losing focus and need to sharpen their concentration.
One of the best things about meditation is you don't need anything to do it except a little time and space. There are many different types of meditation practice you can try so it's worth experimenting a little so see what works best for you.
Here is our quick guide to meditation to help a beginner.
Choose the right environment - As a beginner, it’s hard to keep the mind from wandering and noises and people around can easily distract you from your practice. Find a space where you won’t be disturbed for 10-15min.
Find a comfortable position for you to sit for 10-15min without moving. Sit either cross-legged with hands on your lap or in a chair with feet resting on the ground.
It’s important to keep the natural curve of the spine while sitting so make sure you are not slouched over.
Close your eyes softly and relax the face.
Breathing - Breath Slowly and deeply. Inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth. Don't force the breath, let it increase naturally. The first few breaths may be shallow but as you progress the depth will increase.
Awareness of the breath - As you take more breaths you will start to become calmer and more relaxed. Focus your attention and mind on your breathing. Start to count how many seconds you breathe in and out for.
Focus on trying to make the breath longer without forcing the lungs. Be aware of every breath you take in through your nose and every breath out through the mouth.
If you find your attention strays from the breathing, take your mind back, focus, and continue to count the breaths. It is normal to drift away when you first start your practice. You may find this happens a lot to start with but as you get better and you practice more you will find it easier to concentrate without straying.
To finish your Mediation slowly open your eyes. Stand up slowly and have a good stretch and bring your awareness to the next task.
It really is that simple to start your meditation practice and you can continue the above for as long as you feel like. 5 minutes or 30 minutes, it’s down to your time constraints and what works for you.
It may seem like a chore at first but once you feel the benefits and get used to doing it more effectively you should start to look forward to doing it. You should aim to turn it into a habit and do it every day.
Founder of TONIQ
Let us know what you do to be more mindful. Share this with someone who you know would benefit from reading this. The U Perform family loves sharing ideas and encouraging each other.