Four Simple Exercises to Practice Mindfulness
August 22, 2019
It’s a busy world. Sunrise, sunset. Day in, day out. You plan your day, then you plan your weekend. In the rush to accomplish necessary tasks and deal with life’s hurdles, you may find yourself losing your connection with the present moment and yourself – missing out on what you’re doing and how you’re feeling. Did you notice whether you felt well rested this morning or that flowers are in bloom along your route to work?
Mindfulness is an age-old practice of purposely focusing your attention on the present moment – and accepting it without judgment.
Working in her later years and despite facing mobility challenges, 70-year-old Beth Dancing Free maintains that her ‘mind’ is her strongest tool.
Beth began work in the 70’s in the “welfare field,” as it was called. She blossomed in her career, with her unique open style and a natural warmth, and upheld many roles in the care sector as a Counsellor when Kids Helpline began, support with disabled clients, and volunteer palliative care roles. This year, Beth celebrated an outstanding 11 years of work at ComLink, as a Client Support Officer.
Over time, Beth’s physical health has been changing and presented her with mobility challenges. “My left knee replacement was done late last year, and I still experience constant high physical pain as my left knee heals, and my right knee is deteriorating. At times, I feel frustrated, helpless, and a lack enthusiasm to participate in my usual quality of life… including riding my much loved motorcycle!”
So how does Beth overcome such challenges and keep a healthy mind? “I practice yoga. I walk, when I can. I cry when I need to, letting the pressure off and feeling the results of wonderful chemicals that my brain releases to soothe me. I tell myself ‘sleep’ when and if you want to, as tomorrow is a new day. I reach out to family and friends, a counsellor if necessary. I look for resources through inspirational books and discussions, feeling encouraged by the journeys other people take; often, much much harder than mine. Perspective helps me. I accept that my ‘mind’ is my strongest tool, no matter what the challenge.”
A wealth of research supports this, finding that practicing mindfulness can bring improvements in both physical and psychological symptoms as well as positive changes in health, attitudes, and behaviours. Studies have shown benefits with an array of conditions including irritable bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia, psoriasis, anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
You can start putting mindfulness into practice with a few simple exercises.
- Basic Mindfulness Meditation: Sit quietly and focus on your natural breathing or on a word or “mantra” that you repeat silently. Allow thoughts to come and go without judgment and return to your focus on breath or mantra.
- Become a Sensory Observer: Notice sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and touches. Name them “sight,” “sound,” “smell,” “taste,” or “touch” without judgment and let them go.
- Become an Emotions Observer: Practice a steady and relaxed naming of emotions: “joy,” “anger,” “frustration.” Accept the presence of the emotions without judgment and let them go.
- Eat Mindfully: When you’re having a meal, focus on your eating. Pay attention to how the food looks, smells and tastes. You may find you enjoy your food more, and stop eating when you’re full instead of automatically finishing what’s on your plate.
Beth partook in ComLink’s Pain Management Group, where participants learnt and/or refreshed mindfulness practice. Simple, clear ideas and steps are given on how to use one’s mind to assist them to reach a quiet, focused space. Class members speak of less anxiety, better sleep, and more pleasure in daily events. “We continue our practice of learning how to experience getting out of our worrying, negative heads… and into a better space, managing not only our pain… but consequently, our lives,” Beth shares.
For more information on ComLink’s support services contact our friendly team on 1300 761 011. You can also visit your local library to access resources on mindfulness such as books and tapes.