Caption: Build up to meditation by completing regular yoga practice
Our lives are so much more hectic than our ancestors’ would have been. Emails come pinging in at every hour of the day and night, smartphones vibrate with nonsense messages from marketing companies, bills need to be paid, jobs don’t get left at work anymore and generally, it can all feel exhausting. If you’re suffering from the beginnings of burnout, then it might be time to take some steps towards giving your brain a little downtime. Stop doing everything at a million miles an hour, slow down, and make some time in your schedule for mindfulness. We’re not suggesting you move to the rainforest and meditate for eight hours a day, but a small change to your mindset could make a big difference to your mental state.
Exercise and Mindfulness, Two Birds One Stone
If you struggle with the idea of sitting still and doing absolutely nothing, then you can achieve mindfulness in ways other than through meditation. Yoga is a great place to start, as it encourages you to focus on your breathing, an inward direction, rather than your surroundings, an outward direction. Although this five-minute practice is designed for poker players, it would suit anybody at the beginning of their yoga journey. Make yourself some space in a quiet room in your house; you’ll only need about 6 feet by 2 feet, so just about anyone should be able to find an area big enough! To begin with, a towel is perfectly adequate, but if you take to yoga then you can pick up a proper yoga mat for surprisingly cheap. Starting with five minutes is enough to give you a feel for things, but you can then try to build up to half an hour sessions. Afterwards, always make time to lie still with your thoughts and reflect on your practice; it’s during these moments that you’ll really get in touch with yourself.
Try a Mindfulness Walk
Caption: Pay attention to each of your senses in turn
For some people, even yoga feels like too much stillness and that’s where mindfulness walks really come into their own. If you work in an office and don’t want to get the yoga mat out, or only get time on your lunch break for a short burst of exercise, then this is the perfect mindfulness practice for you. There are many different forms that your practice can take, but a simple one is to go for a walk and pay attention to each of your five senses in turn. Start with what you can see; this is the sense that most of us are the most in tune with, so it’s a nice easy place to start. Make a mental note of five interesting things that you can see, maybe ones that bring you joy, or something you don’t see often. Next move onto what you can hear; block out all of your other senses and focus just on the noises around you. If you’re in a park this could be birdsong, or if you’re out on the street it could be the sound of tyres rumbling along. Follow this with what you can smell, then feel, then taste. Open your mouth wide and inhale deeply, you might be surprised what you can taste in the air. Tuning in to each of our senses, in turn, helps us to feel more connected to our surroundings and therefore more grounded.
You Might be Ready to Meditate
We all move at our own pace and some of us might be ready for meditation a little earlier than others. If you’re struggling to get started, then find a seated position somewhere quiet, close your eyes, and focus just on your hearing. You might be able to hear your own breathing or heartbeat, you might hear the whirr of the heating coming on. Focus your whole being on just that and then very slowly start to clear your mind until you’re no longer focusing on your hearing, or in fact, anything at all. If your mind starts to wander, then refocus on your hearing and once it’s settled, try again. Aim for five minutes of proper meditation for your first few sessions, then gradually build up as you start to find it easier. You’ll be amazed at how transformative it feels.