I have been reading Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness by Jon Kabat-Zinn over the past week and as a result I have started a new mindfulness meditation practice for 45 minutes each day.
I started by meditating in the morning as I have always found that a good way to start the day and it means it is less likely to be forgotten or pushed back. For the first few days I really struggled to stay awake! I was ok for a while and then zzz… I was gone. Apparently it is a common problem, so I haven’t worried too much and have just adjusted things slightly. I tried meditating in the evening but as I anticipated, forgot about it one day. I went back to the mornings but I have been getting up at 7.30am rather than 7.00am and I think that has helped me be less sleepy. I get up and brush my hair and teeth and splash some water on my face to help wake myself up and then go and sit, setting my alarm for 45 minutes.
Practicalities dealt with, I have seen some subtle benefits already. I have noticed that I have been calmer and able to catch myself at times (it’s a work in progress!) when I am just reacting to a situation. I have been more aware of the realm of beingness (the book covers this in more detail). I have managed to bring the intention of mindfulness to a lot of my interactions this week and just brought myself back to my breathing at times.
I will probably do a review of the book as I am enjoying it so much, but for now I thought I would share some tools that have helped me practice mindfulness:
My husband recently read about the benefits of eating in front of a mirror with a smaller fork and smaller plate in becoming mindful when eating. I love food, but do have a habit of eating too quickly so have started doing this. The mirror in particular makes me more aware of what I am doing and is a good reminder to savour the food!
Don’t Over Schedule
I used to over schedule a lot and then crash and burn! I have got much better at keeping life simple and spreading out my commitments and ensuring I leave time between commitments and for rest and rejuvenation. I feel healthier and in control of my schedule and just able to be in the moment without the anxiety of being overstretched.
Exercise helps me to be more mindful. I particularly find that I don’t have time to think about anything else when I am doing aerobic exercise like running! I have also found yoga helpful in taking care of my body in a mindful way. Exercise can help to get rid of stress and also to ‘inhabit’ your body more fully. When I am feeling low or over thinking, getting my body moving can help disrupot those negative patterns.
A simple one and something we are hopefully all doing! However it is something many of us don’t pay attention to. Being aware of the in and out breathe is at the heart of many mindfulness, meditation and yoga practices and with good reason. I try to bring my awareness back to my breathing at different times throughout the day (and have been more aware of it combined with the meditation practice I mentioned).
Meditation doesn’t have to be complicated. Simply sitting in a comfortable position and paying attention to the in and out breathes of your breathing is a great way to do it. As I mentioned, the book I shared about reading is resource to get started (and to develop your practice).
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