Mindfulness is no longer just having a moment – it seems to be here to stay and forms a key part of many psychological therapies. Mindfulness is simply paying attention to the present moment non-judgementally with openness and curiosity.
Informal practice involves directing your full attention to regular activities, like washing the dishes or brushing your teeth. Mindful meditation involves going a little deeper where you tend to sit and focus your attention on an exercise for a little longer. Why not try one of these brief exercises to start your journey into the world of mindful meditation. Start each one by sitting or lying down, getting yourself comfortable, and beginning to breathe deeply at a slow, even pace. You can close your eyes or just focus your gaze.
1. 5 Senses
Using each of your senses start exploring your surroundings. Slowly notice and name 5 things you can see, 4 things you can hear, 3 things you can feel, 2 things you can smell, and 1 thing you can taste. Take your time, you may not notice enough stimuli immediately and remember you can notice what’s happening inside your body. Maybe you can feel your strong, steady heartbeat or hear the air as you take deep breaths in.
2. Body Scan
Starting at the bottom, bring your attention to the toes on your right foot and imagine a ball of light resting on them. Imagine that ball of light slowly working its way up the right side of your body all the way to the crown of your head before sending it back down the left side all the way to your toes. Feel the warmth touch your body and maybe let the light rest on certain spots where you may be holding tension.
3. Guided Meditation
Take advantage of one of the many apps on the market to guide you through a meditation exercise or give Google a whirl for any specific topics, like gratitude or self-compassion. Some even contain affirmations if that’s your thing. Headspace and Calm are just two of the recommended apps you could use.
Remember that being more mindful involves training your brain, which can be hard to start with, so:
- You may not be able to focus for very long at first – that’s ok!
- It’s completely normal for your thoughts to wander – just gently guide your mind back.
- Like with any skill, the more you practise mindfulness, the better you’ll get at it.
- If a particular strategy isn’t working for you, try a different one. There’s many, many ways to practice mindfulness.