Mindfulness is a form of meditation that can help us change our thoughts and think more positively. When we are kinder to ourselves and the world around us, we become more grateful and focus less on the negatives.
Mindfulness exercises help us to refocus our minds and become more aware of what’s happening in the moment so that we can connect on a greater level with the world around us.
Studies have shown that meditation can help with insomnia, high blood pressure, stress, pain, anxiety and depression, and the University of Oxford Mindfulness Research Centre aims to prevent depression through mindfulness.
Mindfulness exercisesThere are lots of mindfulness exercises you can practise. Here are a few to get you started.
Mindful breathingBegin by observing your breathing. Breathe in slowly through your nose for three seconds then breathe out slowly for another three seconds. Repeat this several times and focus your attention on each breath, letting go of any unwanted thoughts. You’ll soon notice that you begin to feel much calmer and less distracted by negative thinking.
Mindful observationThis is a great way to connect with nature and appreciate the beauty that is around you. Focus your thoughts on something that you can see, such as an insect, the rain on a window or the clouds. Observe these things in more detail and imagine that you are seeing them for the first time. You can also pay attention to the sounds around you, sensations and feelings within your body and the thoughts that come and go in your mind.
Mindful eatingOften we eat out of habit, stress or depression and we forget to enjoy the process. Eating too little or too much for the wrong reasons can lead to eating disorders, so it’s important to remember why we eat. Mindful eating reminds us to slow down with every mouthful, to taste and smell the food. Ask yourself how you feel when you eat. How is it affecting your emotions? Do you feel happy, guilty, hungry or full?
Mindful awarenessThis exercise is a great way to slow down your actions and release negative thoughts from your mind. Throughout the day, pay attention to the everyday tasks that you would usually take for granted, for example, driving to work. Observe how the car door opens, feel the steering wheel in your hands and listen to the sound of the engine as you turn the key in the ignition. Rather than just going through the motions, mindful awareness lets you appreciate even the smallest of actions. Question how things work, how you would live without these things and imagine how different your life would be without them.
With practice, mindfulness exercises can help you minimise negative thoughts and you'll start to feel grateful for the little things in life. The above techniques will allow you to clear your mind, become calmer and more understanding with a positive outlook on life.
A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled is a book written by Ruby Wax, which explores how mindfulness can help us lead happier lives and improve our mental wellbeing. It offers a wonderful insight into mindfulness and is well worth a read.