Benefits of Mindfulness

Benefits of Mindfulness

We have all probably heard of mindfulness by now. So what are the real-life benefits of doing mindfulness?

I created the following image to show some of the benefits…

Mindfulness Benefits
Benefits of Mindfulness

These are just some of the benefits of mindfulness meditation. Others include:

  • Greater zest for life
  • Improved mood
  • Reduced depression
  • Better resilience
  • Pain management
  • Decrease in cigarette, alcohol or drug abuse
  • Immunity boost

Many people find it hard to find the time to meditate. You can begin to benefit from just 5 or 10 minutes a day, so even if you are very busy, you should be able to fit it in your day. It is better to practice consistently every day for just 5 or 10 minutes than once in a while doing a long practice (30 minutes plus).

Find a time of day that suits you – not everyone can do it first thing in the morning. You might find when you get home from work a good time – allowing you to transition from work mode into home mode. It is also important to find a posture that works for you too. You don’t have to be cross-legged on the floor. You could be sat in a chair or lying down if that is more comfortable. You can have your feet flat on the floor with your knees knocked in and just touching each other. You are less likely to fall asleep in this position and it is helpful if you have a bad back.

The simplest meditation is to focus on your breathing. Watching the full breath on the inhalation and on the exhalation. Any time you find your mind has wandered (and it will – repeatedly!) gently bring it back to your breathing. Notice where in your body you can feel your breath – your nostrils, the back of your throat or your belly rising and falling with each breath.

Why not give it a go?

 

“We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.” – Dalai Lama

How To be More Mindful This Autumn

Autumn Mindfulness

Yay! It’s Autumn. One of my favourite times of year. It’s also the perfect time of year to be more mindful. I will share with you some tips on how to be more mindful at this time of year…

 

Autumn Mindfulness
Autumn Mindfulness

Mindful in Nature

Nature is putting on a spectacular show for us right now. So, time to tune in, slow down and appreciate the beauty around us.

Notice the amazing colours of the leaves as they transform. From yellow to orange to red to burgundy. The colours in Autumn are just incredible. I love to notice the transformation of certain trees that I see every day. One minute the leaves are all green and the next they are yellow or orange.

Autumn Mindfulness
Amazing Autumn Colours

You can also walk mindfully amongst the fallen leaves. Remember when you were a kid and you used to walk through the leaves, kicking them up. Why not do that now? Listen to the rustle of the leaves, watch the colours and textures as they fall. Feel the crisp air on your skin and the wind blowing your hair.

Candle Meditation

Autumn is the start of the days getting shorter and the nights getting longer. I love to light candles in the evening and this is a great way to do a little mindful meditation.

Watch the flickering flame for awhile and then close your eyes. Picture the candle in your minds eye. If you can’t “see” it then open your eyes slightly so that you can just physically see the flame. Then bring your attention to your breath, watch the full breath coming and going. Focus on the candle in your minds eye whilst breathing calmly and deeply. Finish off by offering up your gratitude for the candle, the light and warmth of the flame and anything else you are grateful for in your life.

Candle Meditation
Candle Meditation

Autumn Mindful Eating

With the colder weather our minds turn to comforting and warming food. Soups, stews and casseroles are perfect at this time of year. You can be more mindful whilst preparing your food – lots of peeling and chopping to do! Be more mindful as you eat too – savour the smell, look, texture and taste – especially of your first bite.

“Autumn is a second spring where every leaf is a flower”

Albert Camus

Enjoy being more mindful this Autumn 🙂

Louise

Breathe – Simple Stress Relieving Tips

Breathing…not something we consciously think about most of the time. However, when we are stressed or anxious it is the first thing that is affected. Our breath becomes shallow and rapid. We are not getting enough oxygen. By simply taking a moment to focus on our breath we can change how we feel and how we cope with the situation we are in. So simply stop and breathe.

Simply breathe

Or breathe simply…all it takes is a moment to focus on our breath to change it and improve how we feel. So why not try it right now?

Breathe into belly
Belly breathing

 

Take a slow, deep breath. That’s better right? Do it again. Breathe in and slowly breathe out. Drop your shoulders away from your ears. Now, maybe put a hand on your belly and feel it rise and fall with your breathing. Notice the tension reducing and your body relaxing. Breathe in slowly, feeling your belly rise and breath out slowly noticing your belly fall. Take a few more breaths and notice if they get easier and deeper naturally.

Stress Reliever

Our breath is a simple stress reliever. One we can utilise no matter where we are or what situation we’re in. About to do an important presentation? Take some slow deep breaths. Just about to have an interview? Breathe! Stuck in a stressful meeting? Breathe! Running late and stuck in traffic? Utilise your time at the red lights by breathing deeply. You get the idea.

Our breath is so important but we take it for granted so much! It can change our physiology so easily if we just take a few moments to connect with it.

Simplest Meditation

Our breath can form the basis of the simplest meditations. Sit comfortably with your back straight and your feet on the floor (or on a cushion with your legs crossed). Take a few slow, conscious, deep breaths. Put your hand on your belly and feel your breath coming and going. Relax your hand again and just observe your breath. Notice each inhalation and each exhalation. Notice where you feel the sensations the most – it could be in your nostrils, your chest, your belly etc. Just observe and notice the different sensations of each breath. When your mind wanders as it naturally will, just gently bring it back to the breath. Notice whether your breathing has changed. Let go of any judgements that come up. Just be with your breath. Practice for 5 or 10 minutes initially and build up to a longer practice if you have time.

Remember to Breathe

Your breath is always there to help you connect to the present moment and to reduce your stress and anxiety levels. You just have to remember to connect to it…

If you’d like some help reducing your stress or anxiety, do get in touch.
Louise

 

 

Working With Our Monkey Mind

Monkey Mind

Working with our monkey mind!

Monkey Mind
Monkey Mind

At times it can feel as if we have a monkey in our mind. We can feel out of control and our minds seem to have a mind of their own! Our thoughts jump from one topic to another to another. Our feelings can also bounce all over the place, leaving us feel unsettled. So what can we do when we feel the monkey has taken over?

Here I will discuss a couple of different options – EFT and Mindfulness.

EFT

EFT is a great tool for helping us deal with our emotions and what we are feeling. So tune in to how you feel – are you frustrated, annoyed, sad or angry? Whatever the feelings or emotions are you can use them in your tapping. Here’s an example:

  • Even though I’m annoyed that my monkey mind has taken over, I deeply and completely accept myself anyway
  • Even though it feels like there’s a monkey in my mind and I feel scared and out of control, I choose to accept all of me anyway
  • Even though I feel frustrated and angry that my monkey mind is out of control, I wonder if I can accept myself anyway

Then complete as many rounds as you need to reduce these feelings and emotions as close to a zero on the SUDS scale as you can (10 = maximum anger etc and 0=none).  You may need to do many rounds of tapping, depending on what is going on. Remember to be thorough and try to get to 0 if you can. Adjust the wording each round if necessary as you get closer and closer to the underlying cause of your monkey mind.

Mindfulness

It can be hard to meditate when you have a monkey in your mind. It’s important here to bring the qualities of kindness, compassion and non-judgement to your practice.

Quite often the harder we try, the more the monkey plays up! So go with it – don’t judge, just acknowledge the different thoughts and feelings as they come up. “Oh there goes my monkey mind again!”. Note what type of thoughts you’re having and name them e.g. “thinking, thinking”, “worrying, worrying”, “planning, planning”.

Then very gently, bring your mind back to your focus – e.g. your breath moving in and out of your belly. Or you may want to use a certain body anchor to focus on e.g. the stillness in your feet.

You may need to bring your mind back tens or hundreds of times – and that’s ok. Your mind will naturally wonder from time to time and sometimes the monkey will want to play more! Each time just bring a calm, kind acknowledgement to where it has been and bring it back to your anchor. Some days will be easier than others. Always remember to be kind and compassionate to yourself and your practice. You really are doing the best you can.

Combination

I have found it to be really helpful to do some tapping before I meditate. I tap to identify the source of my monkey mind first. After tapping several rounds I am usually calmer and more centred. I am then in a much better position to sit down and do my meditation. I then find that my mind is much less monkey like and able to stay focused on my breath or body anchor for my meditation.

I recently discovered this wonderful poem about our monkey mind by Kaveri Patel.

Thanking a Monkey

There’s a monkey in my mind
swinging on a trapeze,
reaching back to the past
or leaning into the future,
never standing still.

Sometimes I want to kill
that monkey, shoot it square
between the eyes so I won’t
have to think anymore
or feel the pain of worry.

But today I thanked her
and she jumped down
straight into my lap,
trapeze still swinging
as we sat still.

by Kaveri Patel
(http://www.wisdominwaves.com)

I hope that this has helped you work with your monkey mind 🙂

Louise

How To Fit Mindful Moments Into A Busy Day

We all know that mindfulness is great for reducing stress and anxiety, improving our focus, memory and reducing our blood pressure. But it can be so hard sometimes to fit it in. Well you don’t have to practice for a long time every day. Even a few minutes can make a difference. Read on to find out how to fit mindful moments into your busy day 🙂 …

Mindful moments
Mindful moments

Mindfulness is about being present in the present moment with awareness of what is happening.

“Mindfulness is the awareness that emerges through paying attention:
      on purpose,
        in the present moment,
          and nonjudgmentally,
            to things as they are.”  – Jon Kabat-Zinn

As well as formal meditation practice there are many different ways you can be more mindful. We’re often in automatic pilot where we’re performing tasks and doing things without being aware of it. This is great for certain things like brushing our teeth or getting dressed but not so useful when we want to be present, e.g. when we realise we haven’t really been paying attention in a meeting and we’re expected to give our opinion (oops!).

Mindful Moments

Here are some ways to fit some mindful moments into your busy day:

  • When you wake up take some slow deep breaths. Feel your whole body on the bed and really connect with it. This is a great way to start your day.
  • Whenever you make a drink do some mindful stretches. Raise your arms slowly above your head and feel the effect of the stretch on your arms, shoulders, back and neck. Rotate your shoulders or stretch your legs – whatever feels good to your body.
  • Pause whenever the phone rings. Drop your shoulders, adjust your posture and then answer.
Phone
Pause before answering
  • Before emailing, take a couple of deep breaths. Let go of any tension. Ask yourself if you really need to do this now or can it wait until later?
  • When you get home from work, spend a few minutes doing a short mindful meditation. It can be as simple as just watching your breath for a few minutes. Noticing the inhalation and your belly inflating, noticing your exhalation and your belly deflating. Just focus on your breath and let everything else go.
  • Mindfully prepare your meal. Notice the colours, shapes, textures and smells of your food. Notice how your body feels as you prepare and cook your meal.
  • Mindfully do the dishes or stack the dishwasher. Notice the feel of the water, the bubbles and texture of the cloth. Or if you’re stacking the dishwasher, be mindful about where you’re placing the dishes, glasses etc.

Practice

There are lots of ways you can slip in these mindful moments to your day. I suggest that you try just one or two a day and practice them for a few days or a week and see how you get on. Then try a different couple and practice those. Mix and match the ones you find most useful and the ones you find most challenging.

I hope that you’ve found these suggestions useful. Let me know your favourite ways of being more mindful.

Here’s a short mindful meditation I created last year. It is only 6 minutes long and takes you on a mindful forest walk. I hope you enjoy 🙂

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FH3zudbobIg

Mindful Forest Walk
Mindful Forest Walk

 

Louise

A Walk On The Mindful Side…

Meditation doesn’t have to be static, sat still on a chair or a cushion. We can be more mindful doing everyday tasks such as the washing up, cooking or brushing our teeth. It’s about being more present in the present moment. This morning on my walk in the forest I decided to be more mindful. I kept the same pace as I usually would but I became more present with my surroundings. Autumn is an ideal time to do this because of the changing colour of the leaves. I love the Autumnal colours so I relished the idea of taking in more of their beauty.

I really listened to the sounds I could hear and just noticed the quality of the sound rather than labelling them (e.g. wind rustling in the trees, leaves crunching, birds singing etc). I took in the colours of the leaves and all the vibrant shades. I noticed the leaves that were still green and those that had started to change colour. I also observed the leaves that had fallen already and the shapes they made on the ground.

Mindful Walking Autumn
A Walk on the Mindful Side

I noticed the sensations in my feet and legs as I took each step. I became aware of my breath and felt it moving in and out of my body. You can notice it at your nostrils, your chest or your abdomen depending on what you find easiest. You can even say to yourself – “breathing in” and “breathing out” to help you focus.

I felt the temperature of the air on my face and hands and felt the wind blowing my hair.  Finally I felt a sense of gratitude for being alive and experiencing the healing power of nature.

Next time you walk anywhere, why not try making it a bit more on the mindful side? It doesn’t have to be in nature – it could just be a walk to the shop or from your bus stop home! Just give it a go and see what happens. 🙂

Louise

 

 

 

Tap Into Meditation

meditation

Do you struggle to meditate?

Do you find that as soon as you sit down, get all comfortable and begin your meditation that your mind becomes super busy and you think of everything you should have done, need to do or play you events over and over?

You’re not alone 🙂

I have meditated on and off for over 20 years. At times I really struggled and fell off the meditation band wagon as it were. Since discovering EFT though I have found it much easier.

I often use EFT to help me clear my mind before I start. I just allow all my random thoughts of the day to come up and I tap through all the points as I do so. This helps me in two ways. 1) My mind has a free rein to think all the random thoughts it can. 2) I acknowledge and accept how I’m feeling. If there is any particular emotion or feeling that comes up then I’ll do some more tapping on that. Often our emotions just want to be acknowledged. But we can repress them by putting them to one side or not wanting to “go there”. EFT allows me to gently “go there” and acknowledge how I feel. If I don’t have a lot of time to work fully on anything that comes up, then I make a note of it and then come back to it when I do have time.

I then get into my meditation position, ensure all phones and distractions are turned off. Then I allow myself time to settle and if there is still more thoughts, then I’ll tap along the lines of:

  • Even though my mind is still busy with lots of distracting thoughts, I choose to let them go now
  • Even though I can’t seem to silence my mind right now, I’m open to the possibility of calming my mind down
  • Even though I really want to meditate and my mind won’t seem to co-operate, I love and accept myself anyway

Once I have done that I find that I am much calmer and more present in my body. It is useful to do the tapping quite slowly too, whilst breathing deeply.

I usually find if I do this then my meditation goes a lot smoother and I seem to get in the zone a lot easier.

Hope this helps.

If you would like some help with your meditation practice or your general stress or anxiety, then please drop me a line and we can arrange a session.

Keep tapping
Louise

Making Time For Meditation

I used to meditate every day. Then I kind of “fell off the wagon” and never really got back on properly. I would do it again sporadically. Sometimes I’d get into a good groove and do it for months, other times I’d not do it for months.

I recently changed that though. I started again and I noticed how easy it was! I just slid right into my groove – like never before. No struggling to “get into the zone”.

I had two amazing meditations recently, that I want to share.

Sense Garden

I stood before a wooden gate, so I turned the handle and went through it. I found myself in a beautiful garden. It seemed to simulate all of my senses. As I walked through the garden, I could feel the sunshine on my skin. There was a beautiful scent in the air as I walked in further. There was a herb garden with rosemary, basil, coriander and mint. Then there were climbing plants with wonderful scents like honeysuckle and clematis.

My eyes were treated to an amazing array of flowers of all colours, like sunflowers, gerberas, red hot pokers and irises. There were also lots of different coloured shrubs, bushes and ferns. As I walked along a path, I realised that the path was made of gravel and I could hear it crunching under my feet. I came upon a water feature with a mini waterfall and I stood listening to the calming sound of running water. The energy around the waterfall felt incredible. As I moved on, I heard birds and bees and noticed a wind chime, gently chiming in the light breeze. I found myself wanting to sit down and noticed a wooden seat. The texture of the seat was smooth and I felt comforted as I sat there. I also noticed other textures up ahead, where there was a stone statue. I ran my hands over the curves and straight lines and felt all the different textures. This contrasted with a metal sculpture which was cold and silky smooth to touch. 

I continued to walk ahead and came across a hammock. I picked a clementine from a nearby tree and laid myself down on the hammock. The clementine was sweet and juicy and smelt really zesty. My body felt relaxed and comfortable as I swayed gently in the breeze.  At the end of my meditation, I felt really relaxed and like I had been treated to a sense treat. 

Native American Sweat lodge

This meditation immediately started with me walking towards a sweat lodge. I walked through a path through some trees, where wind chimes were hanging. We were cleansed with sage outside the sweat lodge, then we entered one by one and sat cross-legged in a circle. The medicine man began in leading our prayers and offered up chants. We each passed around the peace pipe before the stones were brought in and the water poured on. I could feel the heat rise in my body as the steam filled up the lodge. During the ceremony, 4 animal spirits came to me. They were the eagle, the beaver, the wolf and the turtle.

After the ceremony I walked up a mountain, with several other people. At the top of the mountain was a medicine wheel. The medicine man again offered prayers and we all joined him in chanting. After this ceremony, I again saw the great eagle, though this time he was soaring on the thermals above the mountain. I felt very light and clear after this meditation.

These meditations both just “came” to me. I did not (consciously anyway) intend to have these experiences. There are many ways of meditating and some days nothing spectacular happens – it’s just me quieting my mind chatter, watching my breath, come and go. I feel especially blessed when I experience meditations like these two and equally satisfied to just “be”.

I’d love to hear about other people’s experiences.