If you're feeling stressed, tired or distracted, mindfulness meditation could make all the difference.
What exactly is mindfulness?
Essentially it’s a way of paying attention to the present moment rather than dwelling on the past or worrying about the future.
“It’s startling how little attention we often give to our daily activities, and how much more we appreciate them when we do,” says Jenny Edwards CBE, Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation.
How can it help?
If you find yourself caring for elderly relatives, working all the hours in the day or generally feeling overwhelmed, mindfulness could
be just the ticket. Studies have found that it reduces stress and anxiety.
“Practising mindfulness can give you a better understanding of your emotions and a sense of perspective,” says Jenny. All of this will help you feel calmer and more in control of your life.
How can I try it?
One simple exercise is ‘the chocolate meditation’, which is designed to help you live in the moment and really think about what you are eating:
- Take a square of chocolate, and make sure you’re sitting comfortably. Concentrate on the sound and feeling of your breath.
- Notice the weight and texture of the chocolate. Acknowledge your urge to eat it, but try to bring your thought back to how it feels.
- Look at it, noticing its shape and colour. Now slowly bring it to your nose and appreciate the smell. Concentrate on this for a while.
- Bring it to your mouth and take a small nibble. What does it taste like? How does it feel on your tongue? Enjoy the rest of the square, letting it melt.
- When it’s gone, bring your attention to your senses. What can you smell or taste now? Rest for a moment, focusing on your breathing.
Obviously the idea is not that you’ll eat every meal in such painstaking detail, but that you will pay more attention to your feelings and senses while you eat – for example, this will help you stop eating when you’re full. When you’re feeling stressed try taking time out and focusing on your breath and the feelings in your body in the same way you did with the chocolate – it’s a great way to slow your heart rate and calm you down.
Find more easy mindfulness meditation exercises here.
Find out more
Take a mindfulness course online or with a teacher. Find out more at www.bemindful.co.uk
If you have a smartphone or tablet, you can download the Headspace app (www.headspace.com) which offers a series of guided meditation and mindfulness exercises – it’s free for the first 10 days.