Mindfulness Monday – Week Four

My CBT therapist introduced me to mindfulness with an audio CD. I had done some reading around the area previously, but I found being guided through activities vocally much more focusing at times than reading about them. The activity I share today, is a very short version of the first exercise I practised when listening to this CD.

With this meditation, particular emphasis is placed on the sensations of breathing as you guide your awareness around your whole body.

The website http://www.verywellmind.com says,

‘The body scan meditation is effective in relieving stress not only because of the mind-clearing aspects present in all forms of meditation but because of the physical component as well. Research shows that there are physical and psychological benefits to relaxing the body and relieving tension.’

I do find this activity incredibly relaxing both mentally and physically, but it also helps me to become more in tune with my body. I have not always had the healthiest relationship when it comes to how I regard my body. I often view it as imperfect and not as I would wish, but this activity has helped me to appreciate and accept it for the wonderful thing that it is, by enabling me to take time to explore and connect with it.

 

The Body Scan

  • Sit in a chair in a comfortable position, allowing your head to float lightly upwards and your eyes to close gently.
  • Take a few moments to get in touch with the movement of your breath and the sensations in the body.
  • Now bring your awareness to the physical sensations in your body. Especially to the sensations of touch and pressure where your body makes contact with the floor or the chair.
  • On each out breath allow yourself to look down and sink a little deeper into the chair.
  • Move your attention to the whole of your left leg, experience a letting go with the out breath. Repeat this by becoming aware of the whole of your right leg. Then move your attention and breathing in to the whole of your pelvis – top and bottom, back and front, hip to hip. Move to the abdomen, the small of your back and your upper back and chest. Become aware of breathing into the whole of your left arm allow the tension to release as you breathe out. Continue this with the whole of your right arm, then your neck and shoulders. Next, become aware of the whole of your head, breathe into it and allow a release.
  • Now become aware of your head, neck and shoulders, right arm, left arm, upper chest and back, solar plexus, small of the back, pelvis, right leg and left leg. Spend a few minutes being aware of a sense of the body as a whole, and of breath flowing freely in and out of your body.
  • In your own time, return to the sounds and experiences of the room you are in.

 

Like me, you might find it suits you better to perform this activity when listening to someone guide you through it. If this is the case, the website www.freemindfulness.org/download is very useful. There are guided exercises to download, which vary in length from 3-45 minutes.

 

I post mindfulness related content every Monday, so if you are interested in reading more, please click the ‘Follow’ button. If you like this post click the ‘Like’ button and leave a comment. I am also on Facebook and Instagram @frommissjtomrsp and Twitter @frommissjtomrs1.

 

Thank you for reading.

Mrs P x x x

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Mindfulness Monday – Week Three

The past week has been incredibly busy with going away to the beautiful venue pictured above for Mr P’s birthday and then coming home to the realities of ill children. This means mindfulness has taken a bit of a back seat as has writing blog posts. So, it is quite nice now to sit down and zone back into some real mindfulness practice and be able to write about some of it.

This week’s activity is actually the first one I tried when starting to explore mindfulness. I found once I started, I could not stop and it really did allow me to begin to develop a new way of thinking and being.

Dr Patrizia Collard says, ‘In this exercise, the invitation is to pick as a focus of awareness a new aspect of life.’ When I first did this activity, the season had changed from winter to spring, so as I was walking down the street, I stopped and focused on the leaf of a newly blossoming flower. I thought about where that leaf had come from, how it grew to become what it was as I was looking at it. I then went further and inspected every vein and pattern within the leaf, thinking about the complexities that made up something we see every day and the beauty of it. There are so many different options of focus with this exercise. I have thought about flowers, trees, furniture, decorations, clouds, etc. If it interests you or you enjoy looking at it, choose it as your focus.

This activity really gave me a new appreciation for my surroundings and was an important step towards developing a much healthier mind-set. It does not surprise me that Dr Collard discusses how studies have shown that ‘mindfulness practices such as this may not only be responsible for structural changes in the brain, but also extend our life,’ for I can vouch for its positive effect on me.

If you are interested in reading more like this, please click the ‘Follow’ button. If you like this post click the ‘Like’ button and leave a comment. I am also on Facebook and Instagram @frommissjtomrsp and Twitter @frommissjtomrs1.

Thank you for reading.

Mrs P x x x

Mindfulness Monday – Week Two

This week has been a bit of a trickier week for me, as my shoulder, neck and back injury started to play up again. This has caused several problems: I have not been able to be as active, I have been unable to look after my children as I would wish and this has triggered feelings of guilt, which have led to anxiety. Mindfulness activities have been important to keep harmful thoughts of blame and self-deprecation at bay. I have found this week’s activity very useful as a way to help manage this. It has helped me stay present and calm and avoid slipping into over thinking mode.

Listen Mindfully

The website www.mindfulnessexercises.com says,

“One of the simplest, most direct ways to connect with the present moment and further cultivate our awareness is to become aware of the many sounds that are constantly arising around us. Intentionally paying attention to the sounds filling our ears can not only help us to come back to the present but can also stabilize the mind and further refine our sense of hearing and deep listening.”

 

There are a number of ways to complete this task. I have been taking 5-10 minutes at a time to practice this activity in the following way:

 

  • Sit down, making sure you are comfortable. Gently close your eyes.
  • Allow sounds to enter your awareness and let them pass over you. Listen to sounds from near and far, coming and going. Try not to label the sounds – a car, a bird and so on – as we do not want to get involved with thoughts or stories associated with them. We want to be present to the sound.
  • Your hearing may become more focused allowing other brain activities to move to the background of your awareness. If thoughts arise, which is natural, gently and without judgement return your awareness to simply listening.

 

It did take me a while to tune out my thoughts at times, but eventually I found I focussed my awareness on the sounds around me much more successfully. Every time I undertake this activity there is a slightly different outcome and there are times I find it easier than others. I have found that my breathing changes when I perform this by becoming deeper, but this may not be the effect it has on you. We are all unique so everyone will experience this activity in different ways and as so many professionals say, there is no right or wrong way of practising mindfulness.

 

If you are interested in reading more like this, please click the ‘Follow’ button. If you like this post click the ‘Like’ button and leave a comment. I am also on Facebook and Instagram @frommissjtomrsp and Twitter @frommissjtomrs1.

 

Thank you for reading.

 

Mrs P x x x

Mindfulness Monday – Week One

Mindfulness has been very important to me during this past year. It has helped me feel less overwhelmed, positively changed the way I think and feel about experiences, increased my ability to manage difficult situations, reduced levels of anxiety, depression and stress, helped me to control over thinking and given me greater self-compassion. Now, that sounds like quite a list of benefits, which is why I would think mindfulness is so highly spoken of and promoted in mental health circles. It was my CBT therapist that advised I try some mindfulness techniques, and from there I was able to incorporate them into my day-to-day life and routine.

Many mindfulness activities can be utilised at various points during your day or in different situations, but as with any skill it takes time and practice. This is why I try to start each day with a quick mindfulness task. I find it helps me focus and start my day in a positive head space.

Because I have found this so beneficial and I’m wanting my blog to be a space of positivity, I thought I would share a 5-10 minute mindfulness activity on my blog once a week every Monday. Being a lover of alliteration, I have decided to call these posts ‘Mindfulness Monday’ (sorry for the lack of originality). I am by no means an expert and have only been practising for a short time, but I wish to start the week with positive, mindful vibes. If you wish to do the same, I hope you enjoy reading this and get as much out of these activities as I do.

 

Awakening Breath

This is a 5-minute activity, taken from The Little Book of Mindfulness by Dr Patrizia Collard, to help us ‘be in the now’.

Dr Patrizia Collard says ‘Living moment by moment, and seeing everything afresh without judgement and worry lets us experience life rather than simply get through it.’ She continues that ‘This exercise helps us to breathe more fully, and strengthens and awakens us to face the day with confidence and calm.’

The activity can be done standing or sitting if need be.

  • Stand in Mountain Pose (see below for more details), with the spine lengthened upwards and the legs and feet hip-width apart. Position the arms by your sides, palms to the front, so the thumbs face outwards.

 

  • Inhale and sweep/lift your arms slowly up and overhead until the hands meet above the head, palms touching. Exhale slowly as you lower the arms back down to your sides, moving slowly with your breathing. See if you can deepen and lengthen your breathing, and try to feel the pause after each breath.

 

  • Repeat 5-8 times.

Although simple, this is one of my favourite activities. I find focussing on breathing linked with the movement of the arms incredibly calming and I always feel mentally lighter after performing it. This is an activity I always try to start my morning with.

Note: 

Mountain Pose – This is a yoga pose that helps you feel connected to the earth, letting your body and mind exist in the here and now. It strengthens legs and improves posture. For more information on how to perform this pose go to: https://www.yogaoutlet.com/guides/how-to-do-mountain-pose-in-yoga.

 

If you are interested in reading more like this, please click the ‘Follow’ button. If you like this post click the ‘Like’ button and leave a comment. I am also on Facebook and Instagram @frommissjtomrsp and Twitter @frommissjtomrs1.

 

Thank you for reading.

Mrs P x x x

 

If you wish to read about mindfulness in more detail, the document below has a lot of very useful information:

https://www.mind.org.uk/media/23908255/mindfulness-2018.pdf
Continue reading “Mindfulness Monday – Week One”