Meditation and mindfulness have become two popular methods of coping with everyday life, supporting well-being and as an alternative therapy to treat some mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression and panic attacks. Using mindfulness through meditation is a healthy way to keep check of your mind, of your thoughts and behaviours. I like to see mindfulness as a way of reflecting on who we are, where we have been, what we feel day by day and how we can continuously better ourselves and stay in a state of self-care.
However, when you speak to another person about meditation or mindfulness some may say they don’t quite understand how to meditate, where to start or perhaps even see the point in meditation. Though we do not have many hours to spend sitting in peaceful solitude it is healthy for us as busy individuals both physically and mentally to spend some time aware of our thoughts, to focus on our breathing and overall health if we are to maintain balance.
Using mindfulness meditation has become a useful strategy to help negative thought patterns and anxiety build ups. Again, you may wonder how sitting down in a quiet space with nothing but your thoughts can help to release stress, so let’s look at the range of ways to meditate to soothe the soul:
Using guided meditation is a good way to start if you aren’t comfortable with complete silence. You can use any guided meditation video on YouTube, one of my favourites is Deepak Chopra’s living carefree meditation. Listen to this once in the morning, and once in the evening. Use the mantra from the guided meditation during the day; the purpose of this is to help remind you of the journey you are on, where you are heading and who would like to become. Remaining “mindful” of why you started your meditation journey. If you aren’t comfortable with any silence at all, use a guided audio to help you as it will give the illusion of being with others whilst meditating also you aren’t feeling as uncomfortable with your own thoughts (sometimes we need a little more practice before you become confident with your own company and silence)
This is one of the more convenient ways to meditate. Being a busy, working Mum and with my daily attempts of trying to save the world I understand the phrase “there aren’t enough hours in the day” all too well. Therefore using meditation in the shower is just as beneficial as a sit down meditation. If you are lucky enough to have a few minutes to shower in peace, please take the opportunity; you owe it to yourself. If you have to wake up earlier or wait for the rest of the household to be tucked up in bed, then do so. Use the shower meditation technique to wash away the day, or the night. Use it to help you prepare for the busy day ahead.
Spend a few minutes thinking about what you are looking forward to on the day or what you are grateful for, which could be an event that occurred on the day, as small as a set of continuous green traffic lights during your morning rush.
Use affirming statements such as;
- Today will be a good day, I’m ready to face the day with everything I have. The day is not in control; I am in control of my life and my feelings.
- I am at ease with my self, I rest and relax when I need to, taking each moment as it comes without worrying about the future.
- I can handle uncertain times; during moments of chaos I know I can find peace within my heart, within myself.
Being aware of your breathing, at any point during the day is one of the best forms of mindfulness as we almost certainly forget that we are only human, our body can only take so much. If we do not take care of it, we risk it malfunctioning. Whether you work long hours at the office, sit at a desk, stay home taking care of the children or even have a fast paced job such as teaching, conscious breathing at regular intervals during the day can help to offer you a moment of peace also a check on that blood pressure!
Wherever you are during the day, set yourself a time when you will specifically focus on inhalation and exhalation. Let’s say your day starts at 7 am – at 9 am you may have your first minute of deep, slow, conscious breathing, with eyes closed. Simply think about; where you are, what you are doing, why you are doing it, how it makes you feel –
Then come back into your awakened life, open your eyes and begin again. Repeat this around midday, again late afternoon and before you sleep. You don’t need to silence your thoughts, all you simply do is remind yourself of what is happening in your life, to be full present in your awakened life, not miles into the future or past. Just present, as you are, your very being.
Use the outdoors as a way to connect with life. Enjoying nature and the surroundings helps to keep our feet on the ground and remind us of what this life is about. No materialism, no urgent need for expensive items, or other temporary things. Indulging in nature is super healthy for the mind, note particular surroundings which make you feel new feelings, sit for a while and absorb the natural settings, be lost in appreciation that you are breathing, alive and able to see the things you see.
Two minutes in the car
Before you leave for work, return home, visit the shop, collect food, on the way to a meeting or doing the school run – take 2 minutes in the car to unwind. Apply the conscious breathing or even a guided meditation CD to allow yourself time to meditate. Remember the goal isn’t about silencing your thoughts, it is simply about hearing your mind, being aware that all we ever have in our life is this very moment. When we think too far ahead we become anxious or depressed. Use your deep breathing method in the car, you could even use a chosen affirmation to say to yourself.
At the heart of each meditation method, is gratitude. Even being able to remain in a state of gratitude enables our mindful living. Considering things that make you grateful for living as you wake and as you lay down to sleep, encourages more of the good things to enter your life. The fact we can get up when we want and make ourselves a glass of clean water, take a shower, have a hot bath, use an oven, a microwave, a hairdryer are aspects we take for granted in our day-to-day lives. These are the things that make us so rich, but yet we fail to see this, always wanting more.
Keeping a journal of your thoughts is a good way to start your gratitude journey; log 2-3 things you are grateful for each day, aim to write in your journal each day. The daily habits we have are a telling sign of the future we will have. If you hope to continue to have a calm, reflective and growth mindset state, you must create a healthy daily habits. See it as “me” time.
Whichever method you choose, start sooner rather than later. We can’t always keep up with the strains of the day, you deserve time for yourself. You must understand there is always a minute in the day that you can have to yourself – but only if you make the effort to do so. Nothing changes, if nothing changes.