These are challenging times for everyone. People are worried about their health, their loved ones, and their livelihoods.
Mindfulness is one way to help deal with the stresses and strains of daily life, and what better time to apply some mindfulness practices. Mindfulness practice is much more than sitting meditating – it is something to cultivate in daily life. Here are some suggestions, whether you have a meditation practice or not.
Pausing, slowing down, breathing deeply
When you feel yourself on edge, worried or tense, take some time out. Pause, and take a breath. Connecting with your body is one way of calming the mind.
Yogi’s learnt millenia ago of the importance of good breathing, and there are many practices called pranayama. Try this. Deepen the in breath and count, pause, then breathe out slowly counting, trying to make the out breath twice as long as the in breath. Just a few breaths for a minute or too can be very helpful. Scuba divers do something similar to calm them if they start to panic, as panic can cause rapid shallow breathing which is not good when you have limited air, and in fact not good if you have plenty air.
Take some time out for your meals. Don’t eat on the run. There’s no need to rush to the next set of problems, as they will still be there after you have eaten. Focus on enjoying your food, and pause a little before moving on with the rest of the day.
Go for a mindful walk
There are some formal walking meditations, but you can just simply go for a walk with no agenda, opening your senses to everything around, feeling your feet on the floor, tasting the air. If the rushing mind comes tumbling in, tune in more to your surroundings, to your body moving.
Acts of kindness
Make a conscious effort each day to be kind to someone, and in particular to be kind to yourself. It need not be anything big – making someone a cup of tea, smiling at someone serving you, taking a little time out for yourself to do something you enjoy. Try it. After all, we need a little more kindness right now.
When you are stressed, placing your hand on your heart works for some people. It feels odd at first, but our bodies respond to touch. Try it.
OK, so we need to self isolate or distance ourselves physically, but it does not mean we need to lose touch with people. Pick up the phone. Use skype. Nowadays you can get multiple people on a voice or video call. Sharing our concerns and supporting each other is more vital now than ever.
Yoga, Qi Gong
Have a quick hunt online. There are plenty online movement practices. You don’t need to be flexible to benefit, in fact the only way you will get more flexible is to try something that stretches and tones your body.
Meditation is not as difficult or as weird as many people think. There are lots of opportunities to learn online now. Check out Mindfulness Wakefield.
Take care of yourself
Now is the time to treat yourself with kindness, to recognise your common humanity, and to be mindful of your own wellbeing as well as that of others.
So, wishing you safety, health and wholeness in this difficult period.