I talk a lot about mindful eating. But it can be difficult to slow down and really savour eating in a way which helps us not only appreciate our food, but to eat only what we need. Here are 3 ways to create more mindfulness in your wider lives to help that slowness come more easily to you. They will also help calm and soothe you.
Mindfulness 1 - VISUALISATION
I use visualisation a lot in my client work to help aspire to a different behaviour. But here we're just going to use imagination of a place of experience to help create a soothing moment. We're going to use an image to help stimulate your senses. Maybe you have an image of a beautiful place you have visited, or a scene from nature. You can look through magazines and create a collection of images to use at different times. This process can provide a welcome escape from the noise around you:
Find yourself a comfortable position which can be lying down, or sitting in a comfy chair.
Take the image you have found. Let's use an example of a seascape to help you. Look at the image and notice as much detail as you can. Now close your eyes.
Allow relaxation of your mind and body and start to imagine yourself in that scene. What can you smell? Maye it's the smell of the sea, or local fish & chips! What can you see in your mind's eye? The gentle flow of the tide, the sand, the sky and clouds moving gently, the ships in the distance or the boats bobbing about in the harbour. What can you hear? The sound of the waves lapping, the wind i your ears, the seagulls overhead...
Take a deep breath and imagine the light on that day, tuning your face towards the sky with the sights and sounds all around you.
After several minutes allow yourself gently to fade the image to black and white, to turn down the sound and to imagine yourself moving away from the scene.
Make contact with your feet on the ground by wiggling your toes, the do the same with your fingers.
Gently open your eyes.
Mindfulness 2 - WALKING
Walking is one of the first types of movement I encourage with when people work with me if they are not getting much exercise in their lives - movement which is non-pressured (for burning calories) and which allows freedom of thinking and easy breathing. It's proven to improve mood, reduce stress and help you sleep better. But let's make walking help you in more ways than that. Mindful walking is about creating a stronger level of awareness. When you're next walking try these ways of bringing the details of your surroundings more to the forefront of your mind:
Walk where you find space around you. Even in an urban environment choose the spaces which are more open.
Observe as many different shades of a particular colour. It might be green, or it could also be grey. It doesn't really matter.
Listen to the sound of your breathing as you walk. Take the breath deeper and slower.
Touch different textures in the surfaces around you. Do it with your eyes closed if that's safe to really focus on the sensations in your hands and finger-tips.
Focus on how the movement feels in your body. Appreciate the movement in your muscles and your joints. Feel the spring in your step from your feet up through your body to your swinging arms and the movement of your head.
Just look and listen and feel much more than you would normally. this might mean unplugging headphones for at least some of your walk!
Mindfulness 3 - BODY APPRECIATION
Body image can be a negative factor in many our lives. It comes up a lot in my work as people move through a journey of disliking their bodies and non-doing stuff where they feel too exposed, to finding body acceptance which allows them to grow their self-esteem and ability to present themselves with more confidence. Here's a starter exercise to find some soothing body thoughts and feelings:
If you can, lie down. If you can only sit that's fine too. You might even like to do this outside. Breathe and close your eyes.
Before we start scanning the body we're going to breathe deeply. If you're lying down, imagine you have a book on your belly. As you breathe in the book is going to rise as high as it can and as you breathe out it's going to fall as low as possible. If you're sitting, relax your stomach completely and keeping your shoulders relaxed in and in their pockets, allow your ribs and stomach to expand outwards. Use your nostrils to breathe in and out - similar to how you might breathe in a yoga practice.
Continuing the deep breathing, start to observe your body from your feet upwards. How do they feel? Move upwards through your body as slowly as you can. Each time you breathe out, think of why you are grateful for whichever part you are focussing on at that moment of exhalation. Try not to judge, just stay calm and remain neutral in finding your gratitude.
When you get all the way to your head, take another deep breath in. Bring your awareness back to the moment by wiggling fingers and toes and moving your head from side to side. Slowly open your eyes.
Enjoy your marvellous mindfulness moments...
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