Welcome to Week Three of Mindful March. You’re halfway through already, so do keep going. This Friday is International Day of Happiness and that’s good timing, because chances are these mindfulness tips are putting a smile on your dial. On Saturday, we’ll introduce you to another technique for the mindful toolkit: breath meditation. Most people take shallow breaths rather than the deep, restorative breaths that engage the parasympathetic nervous system and leave us calm and relaxed. It can be challenging to focus on the breath when there are a million and one thoughts to distract us, but the more you meditate, the more incredible the results. In fact, studies now show that the yogis and Buddhists were right: breath-focused meditation boosts the brain, increasing focus and positive emotions, while decreasing emotional reactivity and anxiety. Enjoy week three.
- Tuesday March 17
Close your eyes and visualise people you care about. Send them thoughts of love and kindness.
- Wednesday March 18
Drink a glass of water upon waking. Sip slowly and appreciate the water hydrating your body.
- Thursday March 19
Be present with people you care about. Engage with them, listen and be interested in their day.
- Friday March 20
International Day of Happiness Make 3 people happy by letting each of them know what qualities you admire in them.
- Saturday March 21
Mindful Meditation. Sit quietly, close your eyes and focus on your breath for a few minutes.
Meditation is a wonderful de-stressor and induces a sense of calm focus. It is useful because no matter where we are or what we are doing, our breath is always with us, so we can go to it whenever we need it, or preferably before we need it! At any time, the breath anchors us back to the present moment. As you will discover, the mind will naturally wander during a breath meditation and that’s perfectly normal. If you find yourself focusing on thoughts, feelings or sounds, just gently bring the mind back with the next breath.
A Simple Meditation Practice
1. Sit comfortably. Rest the palms of your hands on your legs.
2. Close your eyes. Or soften your gaze if you prefer.
3. Observe your breath. Notice the air moving through your nose or mouth, the rising and falling of your belly or chest.
4. Notice when your mind wanders. Don’t fight it, just gently return your attention to the breath.
5. Be kind about your mind. Practice observing your thoughts without reacting, then come back to your breath repeatedly, without judgment or expectation.
6. When you’re ready, open your eyes. Observe any sounds in the environment and be aware of your body and thoughts. You may also like to try meditation apps to help guide you through a meditation. We recommend Headspace, Calm or Insight Timer.
- Sunday March 22
Every hour or so, reset your body by standing and stretching out each of your muscles in turn.
- Monday March 23
Be mindful with emails. If possible, check them only at certain times, such as 9am, 1pm and 4pm.
Click here for a downloadable PDF with this week's tips, to print out and pop on your fridge or desk.