Most days I do mindfulness meditation, and I’m confident this has helped me remain healthy and balanced but I can now see that wasn’t enough. So as much for my sake, I am sharing this blog about how to slow down in 2016 and to reap all the rewards. Here’s some ways that science has proven how Mindfulness will help:
Being ‘mindfully’ present
Our mind does have a mind of its own! It constantly creates ideas and thoughts – some helpful, some wrong, some mean and most habitual. So when we live on autopilot we simply accept our assumptions and thoughts as facts. So in my case, I was in the habit of being busy and the absence of that felt wrong, so I ‘accidently’ hunted for things to keep me busy. By staying mindfully present more often, I got the opportunity to notice the habit loop for what it was – an old assumption and habit that may not be factual - and then I was able to gently challenge the habit. Do I really need to check my emails again right now? No. Do I really have to read another professional development article? No (that was the fearful voice because maybe I’m not knowledgeable enough to be worthy of clients, even though I’m constantly studying). Am I really not good enough to pitch for that business? No – I was just afraid of getting a knock-back. Try to be aware of your habitual, unhelpful and untrue inner critic. The inner critic is a mindless self-judgment that undermines wellbeing and affects our interactions with the world. When we take that critical voice at face value, it fuels negative feelings. Even if there is some reality to the thought—maybe I do need to keep learning to keep abreast of the current information - the incessant negativity isn’t helpful. Slowly, thought by thought, I have begun to re-wire my brain to be different. Your thoughts shape your brain, so by changing your thoughts, you change your physical construct of reality! Cool hey?
Doing Mindfulness Meditation
All you need to find is 10 minutes each day to do a Mindfulness Meditation practice. Sure, longer is even better but 10 minutes is enough. We can all find 10 minutes if we understand why it’s so important to our health and wellbeing. Mindfulness Meditation reduces the chatter in our brains, lowers stress, improves focus, helps us manage pain better and have better relationships. Who doesn’t want more of those things? If you’ve got a busy mind like mine, I suggest starting with a daily ritual of spending just two minutes watching your breath. Nothing else. Sit still and notice your breath – don’t alter your breath – simply notice it going in and out. Once you’ve got comfortable with that, progress to a guided meditation. I use an App called ‘Mindful Creation’ which I really like, or free one called ‘Smiling Mind’ is also good with some very short ones which can be good for starting out. There is a You Tube clip that might be a good place for you to start because it’s only a 2 minute Mindfulness Meditation. Don’t worry too much if you find it hard to stay focussed when you first start, this is natural. Try not to judge how you go, rather just do it as best you can and know that with practice it will get easier, and every one helps.
Savouring is when you become very mindfully present in your current moment so you take in all the experiences of the pleasant thing that you’re doing, such as taking a shower or eating your lunch. It helps to get curious about what you’re doing and looking at it as if you’ve never seen or done this thing before. So eating your lunch, taking in all the tastes and textures. Noticing how your tongue moves to swallow and feeling the food going down etc. This has two great benefits:
- It increases the depth of pleasure that you experience in a situation
- Increases feelings of wellbeing and happiness
Read this great article fully explaining how to savour and the benefits.
So on my holiday I meditated, I savoured, I challenged my inner voice and I stopped and relaxed. It was surprisingly difficult to begin with, to leave my phone behind when we went for a walk, to allow myself to just sit – with no other reason than to......sit! But I reaped the rewards, and so did my family. It’s a wonderful way to begin 2016 and I plan to make this my new habit. May your 2016 be filled with peace and happiness too.