Mindfulness

Mindfulness can be a useful tool to help us to be calm and 'in the moment', for the short-term and for the longer term. Mindfulness is the opposite of being absent-minded or on autopilot: 'Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment' (Jon Kabat-Zinn

We’ve brought together advice from a couple of sources, as below: the first is a practical guide on mindfulness breathing if you feel yourself starting to get stressed; the second is more work-oriented, with guidance on mindfulness approaches. 

1) Managing Stress with Mindfulness, courtesy of Be Mindful Online

The 3 Minute Breathing Space

Use the three-minute breathing space in moments of stress, when you are troubled in thoughts or feelings. You can use it to step out of automatic pilot; to reconnect with the present moment and your own inner wisdom.

1: Acknowledging

Bring yourself into the present moment by deliberately adopting a dignified posture. Then ask: 'What's going on with me at this moment? What thoughts, feelings and body sensations am I experiencing right now?'

You could put your inner experience into words, for example, say in your mind, 'A feeling of anger is arising' or 'self-critical thoughts are here' or 'my stomach is clenched and tense.' 

2: Gathering

Gently bring your full attention to the breathing. Experience fully each in-breath and each out-breath as they follow one after the other. It may help to note at the back of your mind 'breathing in...breathing out', or to count the breaths. Let the breath function as an anchor to bring you into the present and to help you tune into a state of awareness and stillness.

3: Expanding

Expand your awareness around the breathing to the whole body, and the space it takes up, as if your whole body is breathing. Especially take the breath to any discomfort, tension or resistance you experience, 'breathing in' to the sensations. While breathing out, allow a sense of softening, opening, letting go. You can also say to yourself 'it's ok to feel whatever I'm feeling.' Include a sense of the space around you too. Hold everything in awareness. As best you can, bring this expanded awareness into the next moments of your day.

2) Tips taken from the Mindful Workplace by Michael Chaskalson

  • If you walk to the bus stop, tube or train station, turn off your phone. Feel your feet on the ground and the movement in your legs and hips. Notice how you're breathing.
  • If you drive to work, take a few moments when you first get into your car just to notice your breath and your body.
  • As you sit at your desk or workstation, take a few moments from time to time to tune in to your body sensations. Notice any tension that might be there and breathe into it - softening and easing.
  • When you have a break, instead of reading the paper or searching on the internet, get away from your computer - take a short walk and get outside if you can.
  • At lunchtime, turn off your phone and get some air. Pause. If you meet with colleagues over lunch, try talking about things other than work.
  • Find ways of setting up mindfulness cues in your workspace. Perhaps when your phone rings you could use that as an opportunity to check in with your breathing.
  • Before heading home, review the day. Acknowledge what you've achieved, make a list of what you need to do tomorrow and, if you can, put your work down.
  • Use your journey home as a way of making a transition. Walk or drive mindfully. Take your time.
  • Change out of your work clothes soon after you get in and make a point of greeting everyone at home in turn.
  • If you live alone, feel what it is like to enter the quiet space of your own home. 

For a beginner's guide to mindfulness meditation, try Jon Kabat Zinn's 'Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation for Everyday Life'

You might like to try another breathing exercise: Benson’s Relaxation Technique.

For advice and guidance on promoting wellbeing and resilience and preventing stress, please contact us via email or on 0118 3283246.

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