How to do a Mindful Stretch

We all move every day hundreds if not thousands of time. How many of those movements are you aware of your body and the sensations as they happen? Very few I would guess. Well that can change if you deliberately learn how to do a mindful stretch.

Mindful stretch

To begin your mindful stretch, come into a standing position and notice your breath. Just feel your breath coming in and going out. You could place your hand on your belly and feel how it rises and falls with the breath.

Now slowly move your weight side to side and back and forth until you feel like you are evenly balanced. Drop your shoulders away from your ears and release your jaw. Notice how your body feels. Really listen to your body as you breathe.

Move Mindfully

If it feels ok, you could close your eyes at this point. If that doesn’t feel good, just lower your gaze slightly. Now on an out breath, slowly start to move your arms out to the sides until they are shoulder height. Ensure your shoulders are relaxed and not crunching towards your ears!

Really pay attention to the sensations in your arms, shoulders and torso as you raise your arms up. On the next exhalation, continue to slowly move your arms up above your head. Drop your shoulders again and take another breath. On the next out breath, stretch one hand even further up and then relax it. Repeat with the other hand. Check in with your arms, shoulders, torso, legs and feet again. See what you can notice now. How does your body feel now?

With the next exhalation, slowly start to move your arms back to shoulder height. Check in again with your body and the sensations. See if anything feels different now. On the next out breath, slowly move your arms back down to your sides. What can you notice now? Check how your breath and body feel now.

You can repeat this process several times and notice how you feel at the end of the movement. Try doing different types of mindful stretches or mindful movements and notice how that feels. Be curious and focus on the body sensations not how far you stretched.

Move During Your Day

You can do this mindful stretch or movement several times during the day. Try doing it first thing in the morning, when you get out of bed. It is great to do this if you sit at a desk all day. Not only do you get a chance to move your body, you also drop out of the busyness of your head for a few minutes. Repeat the movement before you go to bed and you will begin to drop out of doing mode and into being mode. This can help you sleep better if your mind is less busy.

Want to know more about the benefits of mindfulness meditation? Pop over here.

Keep being mindful!

Louise

Mindful or Mindless Eating – You Decide!

Can you remember the last thing you ate? Did you eat it with mindful awareness or did it slip down without much attention? Do you eat whilst working or watching the TV? Maybe you’ve gone to take another sip of your drink and realise that it’s all gone? Or you go to eat another crisp and realise the packet is empty. This is eating mindlessly or on auto-pilot where we are thinking of other things.

Mindful Coffee?

We can change this by becoming more mindful whilst we eat or drink. The next time you go to eat something try to do it mindfully. Look at the food first. Imagine that this is the first time that you’ve seen it. Notice the colours, shapes, textures or patterns. Become aware of any feelings you have about eating it. Take a piece or a forkful and bring it slowly up towards your mouth. Savour any smells that are present. Is your mouth now watering?

Notice how you feel again. Slowly put the piece or mouthful of food into your mouth. Bring your awareness to the sensations on your tongue. Begin to slowly move the food around your mouth and start chewing. Notice the sensations in your teeth and the saliva in your mouth. Does your stomach feel different as it anticipates the arrival of this food? When you are ready, swallow the food. See if you can feel it as it heads towards your stomach. Once again, notice how you feel.

Mindful eating salad

 

This is probably very different to how you normally eat. If you have time, repeat this exercise again with the next piece or mouthful. See if you can eat a whole meal this way. It can be quite a challenge. You may end up eating less this way because you have noticed the sensations in your body and enjoyed the food, rather than mindlessly shovelling it in!

You can expand on this to mindfully cook your food. For example, take in all the colours of the vegetables as you place them on your chopping board. Feel the sensations in your hands as you peel, slice or chop them. Become aware of the sounds that are being made. Bring your awareness to all of your sensations as you start to cook your food. Pay particular attention to the smells as the food cooks. Be aware of your body as it responds to these sensations and starts to anticipate eating the food.

You can even think about where the food came from, where it was grown and how it got to the supermarket etc.

Enjoy your next meal! 🙂

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