Ever arrive at a destination and wonder how you got there? On your commute to work you listen to the radio, run through your “to do” list, whilst thinking about the weekend to come. Even as I am writing this, I’m cooking dinner, folding clothes, playing referee to the kids, making a mental list and checking it twice (especially for memo’s regarding dress code for dance presentations – oops, mum of the year again!) for the week ahead. We run on autopilot and tend to miss the present moment, missing the blooming flowers in spring, leaves changing in autumn, the trees without leaves in winter and the first lick of an icy pole in summer.
Mindfulness meditation has been around for thousands of years, though has made its way into mainstream today due to this information overload society we live in today. It is the practice of “checking in with yourself” and allowing yourself a moment to just breathe and be in the present, not think about the past or future, just the now. We learn how our minds work, and we are better able to label the thoughts and feelings we are having, instead of allowing them to overpower us and dictate our behaviour.
And science agrees…..
The universities of UCLA, Harvard, Oxford, Monash, Johns Hopkins and Lund have all undertaken studies on mindfulness meditation, proving that regular practice helps combat stress, improves focus and increases resilience. Brain imaging has also shown that meditation even changes the brain, thereby reducing our stress response.
How about adding into your daily routine a little time to be mindful, to be kind to yourself? Setting outside 5-10mins in your day, whether it is as soon as you wake, or the last thing you do before you sleep can assist in your journey to improve health and wellbeing.
Below are a couple of links to short mindful meditations for first thing in the morning and last thing at night:
Morning or throughout the day:
To promote sleep:
There are a number of different mindful meditations available on YouTube, if the above does not tickle your fancy, you are sure to find one that may.
If you would like to explore mindfulness further, below you will find information on an organization called Smiling Mind. Smiling Mind is a not for profit organization, their mission is to provide accessible, life-long tools based on mindfulness meditation.
Smiling Mind builds, supports and develops healthy minds at all stages of life. Developed by psychologists, and based on mindfulness meditation techniques. It is available via a free app and can be accessed through iTunes app store or Google Play.
Below is a link to the smiling mind website where you have free access to numerous programs. The adult program offers ten modules of mindfulness training and guided meditations designed to help you learn to use your senses to stay in the present moment, improve your listening skills, practise mindful eating, learn how to step back and pay attention to your thoughts and emotions, start learning how to follow your own intuition and choose to practice living mindfully through everyday activities.
Starting at just three minutes in length, you’ll find it easy to introduce meditation into your daily routine.
Andy Puddicombe is a meditation and mindfulness expert, co-founder of Headspace and an ordained Tibetan Buddhist monk who, with 3 balls, explains why mindfulness meditation is something to consider. Watch his below Ted talk:
If you’ve had experience with mindful meditation or you give it a go after reading this article, please tell us about your positive experiences in the comments below.
Love Kelly x