Sunday, 12 December 2021
Friday, 10 December 2021
Exercise 1 - Mindful listening - Open your ears
- Select a piece of music you have never heard before. You may have something in your own collection that you have never listened to, or you might choose to turn the radio dial until something catches your ear.
- Close your eyes and put on your headphones. Try not to get drawn into judging the music by its genre, title, or artist name before it has begun playing. Instead, ignore any labels and neutrally allow yourself to get lost in the journey of sound for the duration of the song.
- Allow yourself to explore every aspect of the track. Even if the music isn't to your liking at first, let go of your dislike and give your awareness full permission to climb inside the track and dance among the sound waves.
- The idea is to just listen, to become fully entwined with the composition without preconception or judgement of the genre, artist, lyrics, or instrumentation.
Exercise 2 - Listening and thoughts
Thursday, 9 December 2021
There are many different ways to practise mindfulness and the method you choose really depends on what works best for you. It's good to try a few different things to see which ones you like best.
Today we're looking at mindful observation and we have included a few options to try.
Mindful observation enables you to really observe the world around you and to connect with it in a way that you perhaps have never done before. We often rush through life with our minds preoccupied with our thoughts and actually miss a lot as a result. Mindful meditations are great because they are simple, short, and require no equipment. It's best to find somewhere comfortable where you won't be disturbed and get practising.
Exercise 1 - Mindful observation - Observe an object
Try this exercise, developed by Alfred James at Pocket Mindfulness.
- Choose a natural object from within your immediate environment and focus on watching it for a minute or two. This could be a flower, a plant, or an insect, or even the clouds or the moon.
- Don't do anything except notice the thing that you are looking at. Simply relax into a harmony for as long as your concentration allows.
- Look at it as if you are seeing it for the first time. Visually explore every aspect of its formation. Allow yourself to be consumed by its presence. Allow yourself to connect with its energy and its role and purposes in the natural world.
Exercise 2 - Observe your thoughts
This practice is from Fablefly, Mindfulness for teens and adults. The purpose of it is to show you that your mind is able to be still. It's a simple meditation in which you allow your thoughts to come and go and observe them in a passive way without judgement.
Wednesday, 1 December 2021
When we talk about stress we are really referring to the emotional and physical reactions that take place in our body when we feel under pressure or threatened in some way.
There are a whole host of reasons why somebody may feel stressed. We may feel threatened physically or we may experience stress as a result of anxious thoughts and worries. The first step to managing stress is understanding what is causing it.
There are two main kinds of stress: internal and external stress
Internal stress comes about due to our own internal thought processes. We may worry about things that we can't control, impose unrealistic expectations on ourselves, or have low self-esteem and treat ourselves unkindly. All of these things create unhelpful thoughts that can lead to internal stress.
External stress comes from the world around us rather than our own minds and can be caused by things like noise, relationship issues, money problems, life transitions, pressure from work or family, problems with neighbours, etc.
The stress mechanism
Of course, not all stress is bad and although stress gets a bad press, we actually sometimes need a bit of stress to protect us from harm. Stress brings about rapid physical changes, which help us to deal with an imminent threat:
- Our vision sharpens
- Our body fluids are diverted to our bloodstream
- Our airways widen to allow more oxygen into our lungs
- Our heart pumps harder to send oxygen and energy to our muscles
- Our liver releases glucose into our body to energise our muscles
- Our digestion slows down or stops to enable more blood to be diverted to our muscles
- We sweat to help cool our working muscles and blood from our skin is diverted to our muscles.
- Our muscles tense to enable us to react faster and we release calcium into tense muscles.
This process, known as the 'fight or flight' response, was really helpful for protecting our ancestors from wild animals but it is not quite so helpful in modern day life as it can trigger due to perceived threats. If this happens often, our bodies don't have time to flush out the stress hormones that allow all of the above amazing changes to take place. This can lead to longer term physical and mental health problems, so it's important to find ways to take a break from stress.
Join us on Twitter tomorrow when we'll be looking at common symptoms of stress. #fourweeksofwellbeing