Be mindful not mind full

You couldn’t make it up
28/08/2019
TUC LGBT+ conference
28/08/2019

Be mindful not mind full

Mindfulness CAN help with stress. It is essential for our wellbeing to take a few minutes each day to cultivate mental spaciousness and achieve a positive mind-body balance.

The cultivation of moment-by-moment awareness of our surrounding environment is a practice that helps us better cope with the difficult thoughts and feelings that cause us stress and anxiety in everyday life.

With regular practice of mindfulness exercises, rather than being led on auto-pilot by emotions influenced by negative past experiences and fears of future occurrences, we harness the ability to root the mind in the present moment and deal with life’s challenges in a clear-minded, calm, assertive way.

Here are 5 simple mindfulness exercises that can help you get into what mindfulness means. Why not give them a go?

Mindful breathing

This exercise can be done standing up or sitting down, and pretty much anywhere at any time. All you have to do is be still and focus on your breath for just one minute.

  1. Start by breathing in and out slowly. One breath cycle should last for approximately 6 seconds.
  2. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth, letting your breath flow effortlessly in and out of your body.
  3. Let go of your thoughts. Let go of things you have to do later today or pending projects that need your attention. Simply let thoughts rise and fall of their own accord and be at one with your breath.
  4. Purposefully watch your breath, focusing your sense of awareness on its pathway as it enters your body and fills you with life.
  5. Then watch with your awareness as it works work its way up and out of your mouth and its energy dissipates into the world.

If you enjoyed one minute of this mind-calming exercise, why not try two or three?

2. Mindful Observation

This exercise is simple but incredibly powerful because it helps you notice and appreciate seemingly simple elements of your environment in a more profound way.

  1. Choose a natural object from within your immediate environment and focus on watching it for a minute or two. This could be a flower or an insect, or even the clouds or the moon.
  2. Don’t do anything except notice the thing you are looking at. Simply relax into watching for as long as your concentration allows.
  3. Look at this object as if you are seeing it for the first time.
  4. Visually explore every aspect of its formation, and allow yourself to be consumed by its presence.
  5. Allow yourself to connect with its energy and its purpose within the natural world.

3.  Mindful Immersion

The intention of this exercise is to cultivate contentment in the moment and escape the persistent striving we find ourselves caught up in on a daily basis. Rather than anxiously wanting to finish an everyday routine task in order to get on with doing something else, take that regular routine and fully experience it like never before.

For example: if you are cleaning your house, pay attention to every detail of the activity. The idea is to get creative and discover new experiences within a familiar routine task.

Instead of labouring through and constantly thinking about finishing the task, become aware of every step and fully immerse yourself in the progress. Who knows, you might even enjoy the cleaning for once!

4. Mindful Appreciation

In this last exercise, all you have to do is notice 5 things in your day that usually go unappreciated.

These things can be objects or people; it’s up to you. Use a notepad to check off 5 by the end of the day.

The point of this exercise is to simply give thanks and appreciate the seemingly insignificant things in life, the things that support our existence but rarely get a second thought amidst our desire for bigger and better things.

For example: electricity powers your kettle, the postman delivers your mail, your clothes provide you warmth, your nose lets you smell the flowers in the park, your ears let you hear the birds in the tree by the bus stop, but…

  • Do you know how these things/processes came to exist, or how they really work?
  • Have you ever properly acknowledged how these things benefit your life and the lives of others?
  • Have you ever thought about what life might be like without these things?
  • Have you ever stopped to notice their finer, more intricate details?
  • Have you ever sat down and thought about the relationships between these things and how together they play an interconnected role in the functioning of the earth?

Once you have identified your 5 things, make it your duty to find out everything you can about their creation and purpose to truly appreciate the way in which they support your life.

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