I've been practising mindfulness in the form of meditation for the past nine months and if I'm honest, it's not something I ever thought I would do. When I thought of meditation it conjured up visions of humming cross legged in a garden with my fore finger and thumb clasped together on each knee. The reality however is much more simple and in my opinion better!
I use and app called Headspace to guide me through meditation. Admittedly when I started using it I was dubious but a few people I know had recommended it so I bit the bullet and with a ten day free trial, you get a good sense of whether its for you or not. For me, I found it so incredibly relaxing that within those first ten days I was converted. A lot of people meditate in the mornings but there's no right or wrong times to do it and for me personally, I find the best time of day for me is in the early evening.
You start with a beginners programme which teaches you how to just "be" and concentrate on your breathing. I couldn't get over how such a simple exercise could help me to switch off from my surroundings and help me relax. You quickly learn to focus on how my body is feeling whilst giving your mind some space to relax- something I'd found very difficult to do as I'm a person with a nervous and overthinking disposition.
This quiet time for ten to twenty minutes a day is great for settling your mind, getting yourself in a good head space for the day and appreciate a moments peace. As time goes on you are guided to put your meditation practices into your everyday life- things such as being present in the moment and how you want to be in your everyday life and for others around you. It also teaches you the following:
This is something I've definitely taken on board in my everyday life. Being in the moment is so important because if you're constantly thinking about the future, are you really living in the here and now? Distractions such as phones I now try to keep to a minimum because you can miss so much when you're glued to a screen. Taking on this mind set has really opened up my time. I've found I do more hobbies such as reading, writing, crafting and knitting and conversations are much more meaningful when you're present with people. Sleep has also improved since I've stopped staring at lit screen at bed times. I've found I practice hobbies more such as reading, writing, crafting and knitting and conversations are much more meaningful when you're present with the other person. My sleep has also vastly improved from not staring at a blue light as often.
Through meditating I've really learnt to be a lot more grateful for my surroundings, the fresh air and the people I have around me. There's also a pack on the Headspace app that is dedicated to practising gratitude- something I plan to do this year.
One of the great features surrounding the app is he sleep meditation. If you're someone like me who struggles too switch off/ stop worrying at bed time, the sleep sounds are perfect. There's lots to choose from but my favourites to drift off to are Piano and Hubbub and Drift Off for it's airy harmonies. There's also wind downs you can use if you need to switch off and stories you can play to drift off. I personally prefer the sleep sounds and concentrating on my breathing to switch off and before I know it I'm in a deep sleep.
One of the biggest advantages I've found through meditation is how it has helped my state of mind mentally. I came off my antidepressants last year (which you can find out more about here) and meditation has really helped to keep me balanced. Meditation has been a great way too nurture my mind, figure out what I need and also learn to let thoughts come and go without having to act on them, worry or over think. Its taught me to free myself from my thoughts which has been incredibly liberating and cathartic.
There's so many amazing packs no the Headspace app that cover a variety of topics such as the following:
And those are just a few to name. There is literally a course for everyone, no matter what point you're at life and if you don't want to commit to a course? There's daily meditations that switch up each day.
I've recently gotten into the habit of making meditation part of my routine and practice every single day. So far I'm at 161+ day and counting and to be honest I can't see me breaking the habit! Even if it's a couple of minutes rather than 20 minute session, every little helps to keep my mind healthy, balanced and happy.
I'd recommend everyone try it as a way to implement mindfulness into their life. To take a few minutes out a day that will relax you, reset your brain and overall make you feel better mentally, how could you not at least try meditation?