Self-Care Principle 8: Mindfulness

Mindfulness, deep breathing, meditation, time in nature alone or a combination of them all, are a key principle in feeling better and having more peace and more energy. Through mindfulness we can start to quieten our minds, we can give them a break, we can allow them to have some space. Meditation is the strongest tool we can use to rest our minds. Find a practice or meditation that appeals to you. Guided meditation works well for me, there are many different types, one will work for you.

Start right now as you read this: Soften your forehead, unclench your jaw and relax your shoulders. This shows the tension you are holding in your body now. Do you struggle with your concentration span? Mindfulness and mediation is the best way to improve and strengthen concentration skills. Through the use of smart phones and constant access to stimulation, our attention spans have become less and less. We find it harder to concentrate or stay focussed. Meditation helps reverse this. Mindfulness brings inner peace/quiet, bliss, makes space for love, joy, calmness, contentment and connection. It releases pain from the past and anxiety/worry about the future. Think you are too busy to meditate? Or think it isn’t for you because you can’t switch your brain off? You really do need it the most.

Benefits of mindfulness: Improves our immune system; Better, more restful sleep; Increased oxygen efficiency in the body; Decreases blood pressure, cholesterol, anxiety, depression and insomnia; It boosts Serotonin (happy chemical), Endorphins (natural high), Melatonin (for sleep) and Dopamine (pleasure)

We can also work on mindfulness by practising being present. Some daily examples could be: Savour a good meal a little slower; Accept the compliment; Hug someone a little bit longer or just noticing when you feel relaxed or calm or joy. Components of mindfulness and presence: Observe: Using your five senses, notice what is around without judgement. Describe: What you notice, stick to facts. Noticing thoughts as thoughts and feelings as feelings. Participate: Stay in each moment fully.

Meditation breathing for beginners: Pick a comfortable position in a quiet place. Close your eyes and notice the rise and fall of your ribs and the air moving in/out of your nostrils; Follow the air in through your nose; Notice how your lungs expand; Feel your abdomen push outward; Follow the air back out as your lunges deflate; When the mind wonders to something else bring it back gently to your breathing. Repeat.

Be patient with yourself, it is challenging when you first start, but it does get easier the more you do it. Try for either a minute or five minutes and progress it to longer periods of time as you improve. You could also try apps like Calm, or Headspace. Whatever it is you choose to do to become more mindful and be more present, it will take time to adjust and the effects are not always instant. They are more cumulative. Persevere, keep going and enjoy giving your mind a rest. A lighter mind leads to a better life.

#selfcare #mindfulness #meditation #takeaminute


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