Mindfulness meditation is paying attention in a systemic way to whatever you decide to focus on, which can include awareness of your thoughts.
By listening to your thoughts, you discover your habitual patterns. Your thoughts have a massive impact on your emotions and the decisions that you make so paying attention to them is helpful!
Being mindful is what it sounds like. Taking time to focus on the present, being intentional and thoughtful about where you are and how you are feeling. Trying to centre your thoughts and be in the moment. Sounds simple, but it takes work, especially now when concerns about what the future holds feel so pressing.
Here are some simple activities to get you started:
- Squeeze Muscles: Starting at your toes, pick one muscle and squeeze it tight. Count to five. Release, and notice how your body changes. Repeat exercise moving up your body.
- Belly Breathing: Put one hand on your stomach and one hand on your chest. Slowly breathe in from your stomach (expand like a balloon) and slowly breathe out (deflate).
- Mindful Meal: Pay attention to the smell, taste and look of your food. No multitasking.
- Meditation: Sit in a relaxed, comfortable position. Pick something to focus on, like your breath. When your mind wanders, bring your attention back to your breath.
- Blowing Bubbles: Notice their shapes, textures and colours.
- Colouring: Colour something. Focus on the colours and designs.
- Listening to Music: Focus on the whole song or listen specifically to the voice or an instrument.
Right now, much of the personal time that used to be part of our daily routines - commutes, time alone at home, going to the store - is not available. This means it’s extra important to be intentional about creating space to recharge.
Designating time to practice mindful activities as a family will help everyone feel less anxious. It could be a daily family yoga session, or a quiet walk in the woods as a group, taking time to focus on the way the air feels, the sound of the birds and the smell of the trees. Another good family mindfulness idea is asking everyone to mention one good thing they heard or saw that day over dinner.
© University of East Anglia