Mindfulness has become wildly popular in recent years, with celebs like Jennifer Aniston and Katy Perry singing its praises. This form of meditation consists of focusing on the present moment, even if only for five minutes a day. Despite how straightforward that may seem, it can be difficult to disconnect from our hectic lives and take a break. In the morning, we quickly scroll through emails while gulping down cereal and in the evening, there is endless paperwork and attempting to get our kids to eat their veggies. This lack of time for ourselves, our passions or family has led to burn-out syndrome causing unprecedented stress and anxiety. Yet, could mindfulness be the remedy for a calmer life? Experts see it as a great way to improve mental health; small modifications can cause huge gains. Learn how to shift into a positive mindset with this straightforward guide on mindfulness.
1. How to meditate
Once you get the hang of it, you can meditate anywhere, but it’s best to start in a quiet room with no distractions. Sit in a comfortable spot on the floor and close your eyes, taking in the sounds and smells around you. Thoughts will pop into your head, but as they do try to push them away and bring your concentration back to your breathing. Think about the way your chest moves up and down, the sound of your breath and any sensations you feel in your body.
2. Be inspired by day-to-day life
It is important to consistently practice improving your focus; for example, when you are eating a sandwich, pause and take five minutes to appreciate the flavours and textures. Don't rush through it while contemplating your next meeting. Almost any daily activity, such as brushing your teeth or washing your hair in the shower, can be used to bring the mind's focus back to the present (rather than dwelling on a broken tumble dryer or kids' school reports). The point is to concentrate on what is taking place at that very moment.
3. Go easy on yourself
The mind is a complex thing and it’s difficult to switch off. Don’t beat yourself up if you find your concentration starting to drift. If you’re struggling to keep focused on your meditation, try breaking it down into smaller chunks of one to two minutes. With practice you’ll find your concentration improves and you’re better able to control those pesky, stressful thoughts that pop into your head.
4. Take a break from screens
We have become so dependent on our screens that sometimes we forget about reality. Technology is not slowing down, so it's time to take control of the situation and tackle our addiction. According to sleep experts, all phones, tablets and TVs must be shut off at least an hour before bedtime in order for the brain to cool down after a hectic day. A better sleep leads to improved focus and a clearer thought process the following day.
5. Listen to ‘focus’ music and try guided meditation
When beginning mindfulness practice, it may be beneficial to use music or guided meditation recordings to help ease into the activity. For yoga and pilates enthusiasts, special alpha wave music can assist in concentrating and relieving stress while participating in their practice. Additionally, pre-recorded meditations are easily accessible online or on YouTube; the music along with calming instructions can guide your thoughts back to focus on your breathing and environment.
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