At the weekend I went for a great bike ride at Haldon Forest: http://www.forestry.gov.uk/haldonforestpark And if you’re ever in the area I highly recommend it..
After the bike ride, and a much needed cheese and tomato toastie from the café , I realised that my breathing hadn’t quite returned to normal. Not wanting to blame my poor fitness level I checked my inhalers and realized that they had expired a year ago – oops!
So off I went to the doctors to get new ones. In the waiting room I noticed some leaflets about mindfulness. Now I’m a huge fan of mindfulness and all the benefits that it can bring. Indeed, I have used different mindfulness methods for years now so I am glad to see that the NHS is promoting the advantages of it.
I don’t know about you, but I feel that there are so many demands on us fabulous women that sometimes it can all get a bit too much. I remember in my last corporate job there were times I’d have to go into the toilets, put on my music and do breathing techniques to Beyonce or The Black Eyed Peas in order to psyche myself up for the rest of the day.
A research study published by the University of Oxford demonstrated the potential effectiveness of mindfulness and saw participants benefit from some impressive results:
A 58% reduction in anxiety levels
A 57% reduction in depression
A 40% reduction in stress
You can read more about their findings at Be Mindful: http://bemindful.co.uk
Given these benefits I thought I would write a blog on mindfulness and I hope that it helps you as much as it has done me.
What is Mindfulness?
I like Wikipedia’s definition of Mindfulness: “A mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.”
We have Buddhism to thank for Mindfulness. Nowadays you can find an overwhelming amount of books, apps and classes on the subject so I have listed a few below that you may want to explore further.
Why do it?
10 years ago I suffered from awful depression. In fact it was so bad that I moved home and pretty much didn’t get out of bed for 4 months. Luckily for me and for everyone around me, I slowly got better and that was partly due to practising mindfulness.
The numerous benefits of mindfulness include:
- Lowered stress levels
- Reduced depression
- Help with anxiety
- Getting you to take time out of your hectic schedule
- Greater focus
- Having some ‘you’ time
- Becoming more productive
- Gaining perspective on a problem
How to do it
When it comes to mindfulness I like to keep it simple and something that I will stick to. My current routine takes 5 minutes first thing in the morning and goes something like this:
Sitting on a chair I close my eyes and focus on my breathing. If my mind starts to wander to such thoughts as ‘what’s for breakfast’ then I repeat to myself ‘breathe in confidence – exhale love.’
I’ve recently signed up to a 30-day Bikram yoga programme. This is complementing my morning mindfulness routine wonderfully. I’ve found that I am getting better at breathing in and out for longer and doing the right technique – which should mean that the stomach expands rather than the chest going up and down.
Where to practice
I practice at home on a chair but if you’re thinking to yourself, ‘I don’t have time for this’ then start to do it in the shower or whilst you’re brushing your teeth or even on your bus or train journey to work.
I find that by doing it first thing in the morning that I’m more focused and positive the rest of the day and I don’t forget to do it later.
Where to get more information
The Miracle Morning – The 6 Habits that will transform your life before 8am. I absolutely love this book and hope that you enjoy it to.
Courses and Talks
I use to go to mediation classes in London but unfortunately I can’t find them anymore but I have been recommended this place. I personally haven’t been but if you are in London they offer free classes so why not go check it you.
If you feel that this has helped you please forward to a friend and maybe you can try mindfullness together or go and experience a mediation class.
F: Caroline Arnold Coaching