Research shows that practising mindfulness has an incredible effect on the brain, lowering stress levels, depression and anxiety, and increasing emotional balance, creativity and how well your body regulates itself. No wonder big businesses such as Apple, Google and Goldman Sachs are training their staff in mindfulness.
The practice has two components. Attention: being aware of what is happening in the present moment; and attitude: observing what you are paying attention to in a kind and non-judgmental way. Here are three simple exercises you can practise anytime, anywhere.
Morning-tea mindfulness – bring focus to your day
Step 1. Take a bite or a sip of your breakfast or mid-morning tea.
Step 2. Focus on what you taste.
Step 3. Notice and describe what you taste in a kind and non-judgmental way.
Step 4. If your thoughts wander off, notice this. Then in a gentle way, bring your attention back to what you taste.
Mind booster - don't let the kids get to you
Step 1. Turn your attention to the emotion you are feeling right now.
Step 2. Say “Hello” to the emotion. (It’s as literal as saying “Hello, frustration”).
Step 3. Tell the emotion, “It makes perfect sense that you are here, given the situation.”
Step 4. Take a moment to notice what comes to your mind. Aim to stay kind and non-judgmental as you do this.
Step 5. Next put one hand on your chest and one hand on your stomach.
Step 6. Take five deep breaths. As you breathe out, relax your shoulders and say to yourself, “I let it go.”
Step 7. Notice what you are becoming aware of.
Tip: This technique works for processing emotions as they arise, as well as after the fact. Just think back to the situation that made you upset and follow through the same steps.
Building confidence – perfect before a job interview or first date
This exercise actually lowers the level of cortisol (stress hormone) and increases testosterone (confidence hormone) in your system.
Step 1. Pay attention to your posture.
Step 2. Stand or sit up, put your hands in the air and lift your chin. Make it a strong and powerful pose.
Step 3. Visualise yourself succeeding at something.
Step 4. Try holding this pose for two minutes.