Does your thoughts feel like buzzing bees in your brain? Practicing mindfulness could help with that.
Mindfulness is about training in awareness and understanding how and why you think and feel the way you do and getting a healthy sense of perspective in the process. It’s also a way of stepping back and resting the mind in its natural state, free from the usual chaos. Imagine how it would be to drop all the baggage, the arguments, the judgements and agendas that take up all the space in the mind. This is what it means to be in mindful.
Mindfulness can be cultivated through proven techniques, particularly seated, walking, standing, moving and lying down (to improve sleep). Here’re two ways to practice mindfulness, which are Mindful Breathing and Mindful Progressive Muscle Relaxation.
The simplest way to begin is by focusing on your breath.
1. Sit comfortably.
2. Pay attention to the gentle rise and fall of your breath.
3. Whenever your mind wanders, gently bring your attention back to focus on your breath. Let your breath be your anchor to this present moment.
4. When you find yourself becoming distracted by thoughts, simply notice and acknowledge them by saying “hmmm…” then gently return to focusing on your breath.
5. Repeat step 1 to 4 for a minimum of one minute. As you continue to practise, you can increase the time to 5 or 10 minutes. The longer the better.
In the beginning, you may feel as though you are thinking thousands of thoughts and are very restless. However, when you open your eyes at the end of your practice, you will realise that you’re more relaxed than when you began.
During progressive muscle relaxation, you tense and release each of the major muscle groups from head to toe: forehead, eyes, mouth, jaw, neck, shoulders, back, chest, biceps, forearms, hands, abdomen, quadriceps, calves, and feet. Each of the muscles is tensed for four to eight seconds, and be fully aware of the tension.
Then the muscle group is released, and you focus your full awareness on the sensation of relaxation. By contrasting the states of tension and relaxation, you are cultivating an awareness of both.
This exercise should be practiced for 10 to 15 minutes twice a day.