At a time when the things in my life and the schoolwork I was keeping up with were beginning to feel stressful and intense, I tried a well-known type of meditation called ‘Mindfulness’. Its not like yoga, or what you might think when you hear the word ‘meditation’. It does not involve a mat, or a fancy pose with your legs folded over each other, but it definitely helped me to stay calm and focus in on the moment, rather than panicking about the future.
Mindfulness is very simple, and takes less than five minutes to learn. There are many books, apps or articles you can use to understand how to do it, but really I think it is all about developing your own way to relieve stress. And I promise, all it takes is 5 or 10 minutes at the end of the day, whenever you want, and without learning any special skill or complicated methods.
But it works.
As you can see from these quotes, mindfulness is all about focusing on the present, drawing attention to yourself and your current environment and letting thoughts, worries and problems float away from your brain for a few minutes. If you want, downloading an app so you can listen and learn easily how to do mindfulness might be a simpler way then having me explain it. I learnt from the app ‘Calm’, and it was quick, helpful and a really good way of picking up the method.
To describe in a way that is easy to understand, mindfulness works best when you go to your bedroom or lounge. Find a room that is quiet, with as little background noise as possible, and without other people in. Unless you’re listening to gentle music that doesn’t have lyrics, or you’re following the instructions from an app, put away any distractions like your phone, iPad or laptop. This only has to take you 10 minutes when you want to do it, but it is the most effective when you do it right. And once you’ve got the hang of it after a few tries, it’s really easy to jump on your bed, switch off and relax whenever you need.
Firstly, sit upright in a comfortable position with your back leaning against the wall, bed headboard or chair back. Either stretch your legs on the bed, rest them softly on the floor or sit cross legged, whichever you find the most comfortable. Rest your hands gently on your knees. A lot of mindfulness is about finding the way to do it that you like so that you get the most out of it, so it’s really up to you.
Then close your eyes, breathe deeply and imagine this:
Each thought in your head is a balloon. Every thought, worry or issue whizzing around your brain is one balloon, and all of them together are tied to string in a big bunch. You’re holding the strings in your hand, the huge bunch at your fingertips. When you’re ready, imagine yourself releasing the strings, and watching as millions of balloons drift off into the open sky. These are your thoughts, floating away as you take a few minutes to press pause on the life button and appreciate the time you have. Of course, as you are starting to try mindfulness its completely normal for these thoughts to creep back into your mind, but the more you do this the better you’ll get at switching off.
Now just breathe deeply in and out. I find it is easier to forget about thoughts if I count, to 4 when I breathe in and 6 when I breathe out. The numbers you count to don’t matter but it can help to have something to focus on. Become aware of your body and the position it is in. Think about each body part slowly, going from your back resting on the wall to feeling the weight of your legs on the bed.
Continue this relaxation as long as you like. You might find it more useful to listen to relaxing or classical music as you do it, or you might want to play sounds from videos like nature sounds, rivers flowing or a waterfall splashing. This is all about practice, and if you’re keen to stop stressing and take a tiny fraction of your day or week out just for you, then this is the perfect way to do it.
I hope this has helped you and I would love to know if you try mindfulness so tell me how you find it in the comments!
Have a great week,