Monday, 11 January 2010
Mindfulness is probably one of the most well-proven ways of managing and reducing stress in the world. Hundreds of research papers have shown time and again that the eight week mindfulness course lowers levels of stress, anxiety and depression, as well as many other physiological benefits. Some evidence is now showing benefits for even shorter practices. A study that hasn't been published yet, showed that mindfulness training for just 2 weeks, through the use of a computer, had greater positive measurable change in the brain compared to 2 weeks of therapy training over the same period of time (research by Professor Richard Davidson's team). This is still just anecdotal evidence, but interesting all the same.
Here, I've provided 5 tips for reducing stress by using mindfulness. Sit back, relax and enjoy!
1. Practice formal meditation daily. This doesn't mean you have to spend 45 minutes or 30 minutes. Sit or lie down in a comfortable position and feel your breathing. When you catch your mind wondering off, congratulate yourself for noticing and bring the attention back to the breath. This can be for 5 minutes if you want. Obviously, the more the better. Daily discipline is the key here.
2. Practice informal mindfulness daily. This means you give your full and undivided attention and care to whatever you are doing, whenever you are doing that action. If you are washing the dishes, wash the dishes, don't start thinking about the cup of tea you may have after. Enjoy the warmth of the water, the reflection of the cutlery...continue in this way and you'll finish the day energised instead of shattered.
3. Practice mini meditation throughout the day. Do shorter meditations between activities instead of rushing from one to another. What's the hurry? Life is a miracle - it's worth slowing down and smelling the flowers. Take time to just be.
4. Go with the flow. Flow is a state of mind in which you are so fully engaged with the action that you forget that you are 'doing it'. So, let go of the idea that you are the 'doer' and let the doing flow out from your being. See wikipedia's entry on flow for more interesting facts.
5. Remember first comes first. You need to be clear what is most important in your life and focus on that. Bring mindfulness to what you're doing and avoid wasting time with petty things. The digital age we live in can sweep up all your time. Stop, take charge and decide how to spend your few precious moments on this earth. You won't regret it.