In this hectic, technologically laden age, many of us are overwhelmed by information, the pressure to achieve and never-ending to do lists. This fevered approach to frantic living lends itself straight towards anxiety, filling our heads with perpetual background noise, affecting our health, wellbeing and relationships.
Mindful in May is a global online meditation challenge that makes learning the ancient practice easy, while also raising funds for clean water projects in developing countries. The challenge offers a much-needed reprieve to stop, take a deep breath, and focus quietly on restoring your inner calm.
The importance of meditation is well known, with countless studies showing the benefits this habit brings, including improving focus, compassion, a better night’s sleep, lowering blood pressure and even changing the shape of your brain.
My 8-year-old daughter loves meditating daily at school as part of a programme called Smiling Minds, which gives kids simple tools to mindfulness. If it’s simple enough for children it’s simple enough for everyone.
- Savour your meals – Slowing down is the key to mindful eating. By remembering to chew and taste every single bite, you can experience all the textures andflavours of food, are more likely to be satisfied and avoid overeating.
- Stop slouching – Sit upright and your restless mind will follow. It’s easier to keep your mind focused when your back is happy.
- Create Lego figures – Mechanical activities imitate the meditative quality of chanting. Focus your attention on your creation and take a hiatus from your worries.
- Focus on your breath – Meditation 101’s rule. You’ve probably heard your yoga teacher say this, but it’s a simple trick to learn when you’re feeling frazzled. Pay attention to how your breath feels in your nose, chest and belly.
- Set a regular schedule – A short meditation schedule can make creating a daily habit easy rather than feeling like yet another dreaded ‘job’ to get to.
- Freeze! – Are you madly flitting around? Your thoughts are sure to follow. Stay still, breathe in a long, slow breath over six seconds, a few times in a row and continue your task list with a clear head.
- Commute – take the stress of the morning traffic rush out of your hands and take a journey into your inner self instead. Sit back, listen to calm music or people watch. Before you know it, your preoccupied mind will drift away.
- Tackle sleep anxiety – In their book Goodnight Mind: Turn Off Your Noisy Thoughts and Get a Good Night Sleep, psychologists Colleen E. Carney and Rachel Manber explain that good sleepers don’t think about sleep. Learning to tune out and create a buffer between your day and anxiety about sleeping is the way to go. Mindful mediation can help you snooze so focus on running light from your head down to your toes till you begin to yawn.
- Clean – Choosing to approach what is a necessary but often tedious or overwhelming task in a mindful way can bring you peace and fulfillment. Embrace repetitiveness, limit tasks and bask in your achievements afterwards.
Will you be taking the Mindful in My challenge?