How often do you get somewhere and wonder, ‘How on earth did I get here?’ Do you remember anything at all about the journey? Were you distracted by what you had to do later, or something that happened earlier? Are you going through life in this way, and wondering how you got to where you are today?
When we stop our minds from wondering off to the past or future, even just for a moment, we create a little bit of space and stillness.
Things appear to slow down a little, and we have successfully created a moment of mindfulness. We have become aware of what’s going on in that very moment. It is my belief that with this awareness we create a little more control over our situations and can therefore change the outcome. We show up in our own lives, fully engaged.
Here are a few easy exercises that I regularly practice in order to slow things down for just a few minutes. In fact I’m still practicing, but they’ve truly changed my life for the better!! A few minutes is all you need to start with.
- Deep breathing. How deeply do you breathe? My guess is not very deeply at all. Mostly we breathe using only the top part of our lungs, which means that we rarely exchange the air in the bottom parts of our lungs. Taking deeper breaths improves our health, it reduces stress and ensures that all our organs (including the skin) can function optimally.
We can do this in moments where we are waiting in a queue, for someone to answer the phone, for the kettle to boil or perhaps washing our hands.This really is a simple way to feel better very quickly!
- Focus on your breathing for one minute.
- Take 10 breaths in and 10 breaths out without forcing it
- As you inhale, repeat the word ‘inhale’ to yourself
- As you exhale, repeat the word ‘exhale’ to yourself
- This gives the mind something else to focus on
- And allow your breathing to find its own natural rhythm.You will find that your breathing naturally starts to slow down and you begin to breathe a little more deeply. You will feel calmer and more relaxed .
- Mindful walking. On your next walk become aware of what you are doing, how you are feeling and what your surroundings look like. As you spend more time right in the moment, your mind can let go of anything that you might have to do in the future, or things that you are still holding on to from the past.As you walk to your next destination, start to notice a few different things. Does the weight fall evenly through your left and right feet? How do your feet touch the ground? Begin to notice how your body works and feels. Then slowly expand your awareness outwards to your surroundings. What do you see? What have you walked passed daily and failed to notice? How are you feeling?
- Gratitude lists. What are you grateful for? Often it’s the really small things we are most grateful for – a kind word, the smell of coffee, birds singing. In becoming aware of the small things we realise how many great things that happen every single day.At the end of each day, write down 3 things that you are grateful for today. What brought a smile to your face? Perhaps it was the sunshine, the smell of summer rain or spending an evening with a friend who really listened. Perhaps someone said a kind word? Mostly, it’s the really simple things we are the most grateful for. Could you perhaps find 5, 10 or 20 things you are grateful for each day?
It’s amazing what we can take for granted.
Start to recognise what you are grateful for as these things are happening too, rather than only at the end of the day…
A recent study on gratitude by Psychologist Robert Emmons found people who kept a gratitude journal were 25% happier than those who just kept a journal of routine daily.
Remember: Start small. Just start with one moment at a time. When you recognise that your mind has wondered then bring your attention back to the moment. Even if that’s just 10 seconds. Giving your mind a rest for 10 seconds is better than nothing.
Start with just a few minutes for each exercise. When you realise your mind has wandered off and become distracted then start again, by bringing your awareness back to this very moment. A few minutes is all you need to start with. As you practice these exercises you will find the one that works best for you, and you will begin to get better at creating more of those spaces.
Something amazing starts to change about the quality of your days and weeks. And then your life. You are less stressed, less anxious, less tired. Instead you find yourself calmer, quieter, directing your life where you choose it to go and becoming more alert with more energy.
If you are interested in working one-on-one with me, then I offer 5 FREE mindfulness coaching sessions every month.
To reserve a place before they book up, CLICK HERE.