Mindfulness should be high on everyone’s agenda. You may hear the phrase ‘being mindful’ - but what does this actually mean? It is a simple form of meditation, not in the sense of legs crossed with a lit candle in a dark room, but an adaptable - take five minutes where you de-stress and feel more positive exercise.
And it is making a real difference to people’s lives. With good reason too, because according to the Mental Health Foundation we are more stressed than we have ever been. The benefit of taking five minutes to pay awareness to your thoughts is scientifically proven to lower stress, focus your mind, reduce anxiety, manage pain and help you give better attention to others.
We have looked at how mindfulness can be adapted into the work setting…
AT YOUR DESK: Place both of your feet flat on the floor, relax your body, resting your arms on your lap, soften your gaze and start to notice your breathing – the feel of your chest rising and air flowing through your nose or mouth. Notice when your thoughts wander away from breathing and gently return your attention to your breath. If your mind continues to wander don’t wrestle with your thoughts, gently bring them back to the breath. Lift your gaze and note how your body feels, the sounds and sensations around you.
THE BODY SCAN: A quick exercise you can stop and do wherever you feel mind traffic is becoming overwhelming. Start by taking five or six deep breaths, five seconds in and five seconds out for each one. You are going to re-focus your mind by concentrating on the feelings in your body. Start with the toes, working your way up, think about each individual toe, the sensations within it, what it is touching – does it feel soft, is it cold or is it aching? Move onto the next toe and spend a few seconds on each one, picturing it in your mind and focussing on the feelings within it. Move onto the foot, then the lower leg, upper leg, back, stomach, chest, shoulders, neck, arms, chin, nose, mouth, forehead, scalp until you have covered your body.
MINDFUL OBSERVATION: Find a natural object within your environment and focus on looking at it for a minute or two. It could be a tree, an insect, or the sky. Don’t do anything but notice the thing you are looking at. Just relax into watching for as long as your concentration allows. Observe at this object as if you are seeing it for the first time. Allow yourself to be consumed by its presence and connect with its energy and its purpose within the natural world.
TRY A MINDFUL APP: The ‘Buddhify’ app is fantastic! It specialises in mindfulness on the go for when you are short of time and the best bit is the exercises are guided by how you are feeling or what you’re doing so there are categorys for stress & difficult emotion, work break, going to sleep etc. and they start from as little as four minutes long.