As more restrictions are put in place to help combat and slow down COVID-19, most people are working from home and trying to stay inside. As a result, people may be feeling higher stress and anxiety levels, as well as BOREDOM! With more time on our hands, it is the perfect opportunity to learn a new skill. Mindfulness can teach us how to clear our minds and focus.
Mindfulness in everyday life can enhance an individual’s sense of coping and ability to handle everyday challenges. It is ideal for cultivating greater awareness of the unity of mind and body, as well as the ways unconscious thoughts, feelings, and behaviours can undermine emotional, physical, and spiritual health. This is so important in how we live.
The mind is known to be a factor in stress and stress-related disorders, and meditation has been shown to positively effect a range of autonomic physiological processes, such as lowering blood pressure and reducing overall arousal and emotional reactivity.
Research has found that on average, you only need to practice just 10 minutes of mindfulness per day to experience the benefits. For the next week, put aside 10 minutes per day to do the following exercise. Find a quiet place where you will not be disturbed.
Sit down with your back slightly upright and put your feet flat on the floor. Place both hands on your lap (face up or down).
Close your eyes or soften your gaze and take a big deep breath. Let it out slowly. Repeat.
Become aware and focus your attention on your breathing. Breath in and become aware of the air flowing into your lungs. Breath out, relaxing your body with every breath out.
As thoughts begin to enter your mind, acknowledge that they are there and gently let them go.
When you are ready, bring your awareness to the physical sensations in your body. Starting with your head and slowly scanning down to your toes. As you do, take note of where in your body you feel the most tension. Is it in your neck? Is it in your shoulders or back?
Don’t stay too long on each body part. Just bring your attention to it and then move on to the next.
When you have finished your body scan, bring the focus of your attention back to your breath and stay with it for a moment. When you are ready, move the spotlight of your attention to one of those places in your body where you felt the most tension.
Using your breath begin to visualise yourself breathing into the muscle. Use that in-breath to gently bring awareness right into the sensations of tension within the muscle.
As best you can, try as you breathe out, to have a sense of letting go, or releasing, on the out-breath, and relax the muscle as you do. Repeat this a few times and then return your attention to your breathing.
Then if you feel like it you can go back to the previous point of tension or towards a new one, repeating the last instructions and returning back to your breathing after a short while.
Do this for 10 minutes or as long as you feel you want to. Then when you are ready bring your attention back to the present.
Remember, like any new skill, Mindfulness takes practice. Try not to get discouraged if you don’t manage a full 10 minutes your first time!
For more ideas and guidance, try this helpful mindful meditation app.