Are you interested in mindfulness meditation, but not sure if you have the know-how or the time? Mindfulness doesn’t have to be time-consuming or complicated to be effective. Just about every moment in your day is an opportunity to be mindful, and research shows the benefits are huge.
Originally an ancient Buddhist meditation technique, mindfulness has evolved into a range of secular therapies and courses in recent years. Mindfulness most simply means intentionally tuning into your thoughts, emotions, physical surroundings, and bodily sensations. The key to mindfulness is to be present in the moment. The idea is to allow thoughts and sensations to come into your awareness, acknowledge them, and then let them go.
More people than ever are doing some form of this stress-busting meditation, and researchers are discovering it has some quite extraordinary effects on the brains of those who do it regularly.
Here are four simple exercises you can incorporate into your daily routine.
1. Fingers and Toes
As you read this, wiggle your toes. Feel the way they push against your shoes, and the weight of your feet on the floor. Stretch your legs out in front of you and hold that pose for a count of eight as you wiggle your toes. Release the pose with a deep exhale for a count of four. Stretch both arms above your head. Hold that pose for a count of eight as you wiggle your fingers. Release the pose with a deep exhale for a count of four.
2. Mind your Breath
Lower your eyes and notice where you feel your breath. That might be the air going in and out of your nose or the rise and fall of your belly. If you can’t feel anything, place your hand on your stomach and notice how your hand gently rises and falls with your breath. If you like, you can just lengthen the in-breath and the out-breath each time. Focus on your breath. When your mind wanders, as it will do, just bring your attention back to your breath. Doing this even for just one minute will allow you to pause and be in the moment.
3. Yawn and Stretch
Have you ever noticed how a yawn interrupts your thoughts and feelings? This brings you into the present. Fake a yawn if you have to and say “ahh” as you exhale. Then stretch slowly as you count to ten. Notice any tightness you may feel. Stretch one more time for a slow count to 10.
4. Time to STOP
Stand: Feel your connection to the earth.
Tune in to your body: Lower your gaze. Scan your body and notice physical sensations or emotions. Acknowledge your positive emotions and feelings as you Inhale deeply and discard the negatives on the exhale.
Observe: Lift your eyes and take in your surroundings. Focus on one specific object that is pleasant or brings you joy. Hold that object in your awareness for one minute.
Proceed: Continue what you were doing.
We’re all susceptible to the avalanche of information, stimuli, and distractions going on around us. Mindfulness is one way to slow down, connect with your inner voice, quiet the noise, and find your way to a happier, healthier you.