Mindfulness or meditation has been taught for thousands of years in many of the world’s religions including Christianity, Buddhism, Islam and Judaism. Since the 1980’s it has been used to help hospital patients cope with pain and more recently incorporated into some forms of psychotherapy. Studies have shown it is effective at reducing the odds of having another major depressive episode, reducing symptoms of anxiety, reducing chronic pain, decreasing binge eating, increasing tolerance of distressing situations and increasing relaxation. With all these benefits it should be taught at school!
Personally learning to “stay in the moment” has helped me enjoy life at times when things around me have been crazy. Mindfulness skills help you focus on one thing at a time so in periods where emotions are running wild you can better chose what you need to focus on to feel good about yourself and life. Or even help you stay focused at work or home when you want to complete a task and you keep getting distracted. I read the other day that Google employs a mindfulness officer to teach their employees these skills – essentially to make them more productive!
You don’t have to sit in the lotus position and meditate to be mindful. Try incorporating these simple exercises into your day and see how you go…
1. Set an alarm for every hour and take a minute to ask yourself: Where am I? What am I noticing, thinking, feeling, and doing right now? Is this what I want to be thinking, feeling, or doing? If the answer is “No,” gently redirect yourself back to where you want to be.
2. The 3 feelings game. Every so often stop and ask yourself – what am I feeling right now. Notice at least 3 feelings and notice how some of them might contradict each other eg it is possible to be excited and unmotivated at the same time or even happy and sad. Noticing helps you chose which one you want to focus on and grow. With couples I get them to txt each other – makes for interesting discussions. And this is great to play with kids to help them recognize and name their feelings.
3. Visualisation is a great tool for calming your thoughts and helping you relax or to prepare for an upcoming stressful situation. You can do it sitting at your desk. Utilise technology to help you. There are numerous guided visualization apps out there – find the one that you like and use it regularly.
Ahh I can feel the calm already … Catriona xx