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Covid-19 Series. Using mindfulness in our daily lives

Carolyn, WWTW's Clinical Lead offers some top tips to help you practice mindfulness during lock down.


The definition of mindfulness is ‘knowing directly what is going on inside and outside ourselves, moment by moment’ (Professor Mark Williams).  Life can get in the way of us being able to notice how our bodies are feeling. We tend to stop noticing the world around us. Mindfulness is about being aware of our thoughts and feelings as they happen in the moment.    Reconnecting with our bodies by noticing the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of the present moment. it could be something as simple as ‘noticing’ the grass outside.  It’s not easy and it does take practice.  We have a lot of time on our hands at the moment – an ideal opportunity to develop some new skills to help manage our wellbeing during this current situation and more importantly beyond….

Being more aware of the present moment can help to appreciate and enjoy our surroundings and the world around us.  When we are more aware, we can start to experience things that we’ve taken for granted in the past.

The Basics of Mindfulness Practice (from mindful.org)

Mindfulness helps us put some space between ourselves and our reactions, breaking down our conditioned responses. 


Here’s how to tune into mindfulness throughout the day:

1.     Set aside some time. You don’t need a meditation cushion or bench, or any sort of special equipment to access your mindfulness skills—but you do need to set aside some time and space.

2.     Observe the present moment as it is. The aim of mindfulness is not quieting the mind, or attempting to achieve a state of eternal calm. The goal is simple: we’re aiming to pay attention to the present moment, without judgment. Easier said than done, we know.

3.     Let your judgments roll by. When we notice judgments arise during our practice, we can make a mental note of them, and let them pass.

4.     Return to observing the present moment as it is. Our minds often get carried away in thought. That’s why mindfulness is the practice of returning, again and again, to the present moment.

5.     Be kind to your wandering mind. Don’t judge yourself for whatever thoughts crop up, just practice recognizing when your mind has wandered off, and gently bring it back.

That’s the practice. It’s often been said that it’s very simple, but it’s not necessarily easy. The work is to just keep doing it. Results will accrue.

Mindfulness is the awareness of “some-thing,” while meditation is the awareness of “no-thing.” There are many forms of meditation. ... Others use the body as a means to develop awareness, such as yoga or walking; others use sound, as in chanting or intoning sacred words. “I could never still my mind.

How to Meditate

This meditation focuses on the breath, not because there is anything special about it, but because the physical sensation of breathing is always there and you can use it as an anchor to the present moment. Throughout the practice you may find yourself caught up in thoughts, emotions, sounds—wherever your mind goes, simply come back again to the next breath. Even if you only come back once, that’s okay.

A Simple Meditation Practice

1.     Sit comfortably. Find a spot that gives you a stable, solid, comfortable seat.

2.     Notice what your legs are doing. If on a cushion, cross your legs comfortably in front of you. If on a chair, rest the bottoms of your feet on the floor.

3.     Straighten your upper body—but don’t stiffen. Your spine has natural curvature. Let it be there.

4.     Notice what your arms are doing. Situate your upper arms parallel to your upper body. Rest the palms of your hands on your legs wherever it feels most natural.

5.     Soften your gaze. Drop your chin a little and let your gaze fall gently downward. It’s not necessary to close your eyes. You can simply let what appears before your eyes be there without focusing on it.

Find out more about our mental health programme here

Here is a list of useful resources:

- NHS Mindfulness

-HeadSpace 

-Mindful 

-Every Mind Matters video