Dr. Elise Bialylew, is bestselling author of, The Happiness Planand founder of Mindful in May, the world’s largest online global mindfulness campaign that teaches thousands of people to meditate, while raising funds to build clean water projects in the developing world. She shares 6 ways to bring mindfulness into your busy day.
Technology is developing exponentially, and at the click of a button we can access an infinite amount of information. With this privilege, comes the potential cost of information overload, increased distractibility and low-grade background anxiety as we try to keep on top of things. Mindfulness is an antidote to this. It gives us a way to focus our attention and calm down our nervous systems that are on chronic overdrive. It can be practised through meditation, or simply through bringing a particular type of present moment, focused attention to our everyday experiences.
Much of the research in the field of mindfulness explores the effect of thirty to forty-five minutes of meditation a day on well-being. My research published in the Mindfulness journal, revealed that through Mindful in May, just ten minutes a day of mindfulness meditation over one month, was enough to support significant benefits including an increase in positive emotions, reduction in negative emotions and the impact of stress, an increase in self-compassion and greater focus in daily life.
Transform your mind and the world with just 10 minutes of meditation a day this May. Join Mindful in May today.
We know that what we do repeatedly gets etched into the neural pathways of our brain actually reinforcing these behaviours, or attitudes. When we practise worrying, the worrying circuits of the brain are reinforced. When we practise gratitude, the brain becomes better at noticing the good in our lives. When we practise mindfulness, being more present to our lives, it forms new neural pathways that support greater focus, calm and emotional balance.
Here are 6 unexpected ways you can practice mindfulness today:
Be mindful in supermarket queues
Next time you’re stuck in a long line at the supermarket use it as an opportunity to practise mindfulness. Tune into the body, sense your feet on the ground, feel the breath and notice it’s quality (is it fast or slow, tight or flowing with ease), tune into the sounds, immerse yourself in your senses as a way to get out of your head. Check in with how you are feeling, notice any irritation or impatience in the body and use the outbreath to actively let it go. Then bring your attention to the person standing in front of you and remind yourself that just like you they have their many hopes, dreams, fears and disappointments. Take a moment to quietly in your own mind, to wish them well, in this way practising the traditional loving-kindness meditation, which will generate good feelings in you and help train your own mind and heart towards greater patience, and compassion.
Name it to tame it
Neuroscientific research demonstrates that when we’re stressed, talking or writing about how we’re feeling helps us calm down. As we become more mindful of difficult emotions, we reinforce neural pathways that help us remember to pause when we’re in the heat of an emotion, and use the most evolved part of the brain, the prefrontal cortex, to calm ourselves down.
Be mindful while in conversation
Conversations are a great opportunity to practise being mindful – and mindfulness in turn supports us in experiencing intimacy. Often during conversations we can be caught up in our own concerns and thoughts. When we mindfully communicate, we consciously open our awareness to include a sense of our own body and emotional state, while also making space to be open to the other person. Pay attention to the person’s non-verbal communication: their posture, eye contact, and facial expressions. A large part of communication is transmitted through our non-verbal gestures and signs. Many of us are uncomfortable with silence and so we speak to fill the space. Notice if you have a tendency to fill the space and don’t be afraid to pause in conversations.
Wake up mindfully
When you first wake up in the morning, take a moment to consciously sense how you are feeling: Rested? Tired? Lazy? Energetic? Bring awareness to your body, and more specifically to the feeling of your breath. Before you do anything else (like check your phone!), count ten breaths as they move in and out of the body and make sure that as you are counting, you actually feel the sensations of the breath in your body, allowing your mind to be free from any concerns about the day to come. If you lose count and get distracted, simply begin again when you notice you’ve lost count. After counting the breaths, drop the counting and bring to mind three things you are grateful for in your life. Get out of bed and start your day with a positive attitude.
Use your breath to calm yourself down
You breath is intimately connected to your nervous system. Use it to your advantage when you’re feeling stressed to calm yourself down by slowing your breath and extending your exhalation. This activate the rest and digest branch of the nervous system and calm you down, helping you make better decisions about what is needed when you are under pressure.
Take a ten minute holiday for your mind
Although when we’re stressed the last thing we want to do is stop and meditate, research shows that meditating for just ten minutes can help you be more focussed and effective. Give your mind a ten minute holiday and it will reward you with a powerful return on investment of greater focus, clarity and effectiveness.
To learn how to meditate register for Mindful in May and learn from the world’s best teachers.
Dr Elise Bialylew is bestselling author of, The Happiness Planand founder of Mindful in May,the world’s largest online global mindfulness fundraising campaign that teaches thousands of people to meditate, while raising funds to build clean water projects in the developing world. A doctor trained in psychiatry, turned social entrepreneur and mindfulness expert, she’s passionate about supporting individuals and organisations to develop inner tools for greater wellbeing and flourishing, and offers workshops and training at The Mind Life Project. Her work has featured in the Huffington Post, New York Times, and on Australian Television.