Lichfield City Academy students have mental strength
Mindfulness meditation can be invaluable in managing stress, improving wellbeing and enhancing performance under pressure. What’s more, you can do it anytime, anywhere.
We may not be able to change what’s going on around us or reduce the external sources of stress, but we can look at how we approach life’s challenges. Research shows that mindfulness could help people to manage their stress levels more effectively, reduce anxiety and depression, increase happiness and even improve relationships.
Studies show that regular mindfulness practice can improve physical wellbeing by bolstering the immune system, thereby helping to fight off colds and other illnesses. There are also impressive findings showing that even short-term meditation training improves attention and self-regulation.
In sport, mindfulness can help athletes to maximise performance, improve focus and reduce self-criticism, while in the workplace, as well as reducing stress levels, mindfulness has been shown to improve communication and decrease likelihood of burn-out.
Amid the many pressures of modern life, often much of our emotional energy is spent either ruminating on past experiences or worrying about the future, and many of us are trying so hard to be happy that we have forgotten how to live peacefully and successfully in the here and now.
The goal of mindfulness is to tune one’s awareness and pay attention to the present moment. It enables us to take a break from dwelling on the past or the future.
To get the most from mindfulness meditation, make sure you are comfortable, for example, by wearing loose-fitting clothing, and find a time when you will not be disturbed by others. Turn off your phone.
Sit in a position that you can maintain without fidgeting. If mindfulness feels challenging or you are not sure if you are doing it right, try not to get stressed or demotivated. There is no right way, it is just about trying to focus your attention.
A simple way to build mindfulness into a busy schedule is to become more mindful during everyday activities. For example, the next time you are cleaning your teeth, rather than planning the rest of your day or worrying about your next match, spend a couple of minutes paying full and undivided attention to the experience of brushing.
What does the toothpaste look like when it turns from paste to froth? Which sounds can you hear? How does the toothpaste smell? By paying attention to all five senses, everyday routines that we take for granted can be transformed into rich sensory experiences that take us away from our usual mental habits.
DEVELOPING A ROUTINE
Try a three-minute breathing space when you wake up as a calming way to start your day.
Build mindfulness into everyday activities, such as brushing your teeth, drinking a cup of tea or having a shower. Mindful eating (removing distractions such as the TV and slowly paying attention to all five senses while eating) can transform a routine meal into a rich sensory experience.
Make sure you take regular breaks during the working day to calm the mind. Although many people find it hard to take breaks when they are very busy, taking a 10-minute mindful walk may increase productivity.
At stressful times
If you are feeling apprehensive or edgy before a deadline or a big game, taking three minutes out in a quiet place for some breathing space can help to ground you and focus your attention on what is important.
It can be calming to practise mindfulness last thing at night. The aim is not to go to sleep, but to move on from thoughts about the day. This could be a good time to try an imagery practice, such as lake meditation. If you are lying down, focus on the breath by feeling the stomach move up and down.
Good luck Lichfield Academy students