When was the last time you took a few moments to slow down and just tune in with yourself? Do you tend to get flustered or panicky when something goes wrong at home or in the workplace? Mindfulness could be the perfect tool to help you reclaim your inner peace.
The wonderful thing about mindfulness exercises is that you can practice them anywhere. You don’t need special equipment and you certainly don’t need to take expensive classes.
When you are used to thinking about hundreds of things at the same time, mindfulness will feel strange at first. Mindfulness isn’t about emptying your head of all thoughts. It’s about learning to accept your thoughts and feelings exactly as they are. Mindfulness lets us live in the “now” instead of worrying about the past or future.
So, how can you get started? Try these mindfulness exercises the next time you start feeling overwhelmed:
1. Use your five senses
Take a few deep breaths and redirect your attention to your environment. Name five things you can see, touch, smell, and feel. This process will ground you in the present. It’s particularly useful if you have panic attacks.
2. Taste a raisin and eat a mindful meal
Take a raisin or small piece of candy and put it on your tongue. Carefully move it around inside your mouth. Pay attention to the textures and flavors. When you’ve mastered this, try eating a mindful meal.
So many of us gulp down our food while watching TV, driving, or working at our desks. Mindful eating will improve your digestion and help you enjoy your food. Everyone deserves to take at least ten minutes to focus on a meal – that includes you.
3. Use a mindful breathing exercise
Find somewhere to sit, preferably in a quiet location. Breathe in through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Watch your breath. Focus on the sensation of air filling and leaving your lungs. Imagine that your anxiety is disappearing into the atmosphere with every exhalation.
4. Mindful observation
Most of us race through the day, hardly pausing to take in our surroundings. Sound familiar? Try a mindful observation exercise.
Start by picking an object in your immediate environment. It doesn’t have to be anything special. A rock, a small pot plant, a notebook – literally anything will do. Now, try and look at it as though seeing it for the first time. How would you describe its shape, color, texture?
Take this exercise to the next level by looking for things that you normally take for granted and taking a moment to feel gratitude. For instance, most of us get up in the morning and assume that we will be able to drink clean water from the taps. However, clean water is a massive privilege. Take a moment to be thankful for the small stuff.
Essential Oils + Mindfulness
The right essential oil can calm you down in seconds. Using them alongside mindfulness exercises for a soothing self-care experience. Try lavender, sage, frankincense, or chamomile.
To use an oil, place a few drops on a piece of tissue and inhale for a few minutes. Smelling and applying an oil is a mindfulness practice in itself. Rub a few drops on your temples and wrists. Massage the area using slow, firm strokes. Pay close attention to how the oil smells and feels.
Remember that you should never apply essential oils directly to your skin. Always dilute them beforehand in a carrier oil as per the manufacturer’s instructions. Alternatively, you can buy readymade preparations in health food stores.
It’s great to practice mindfulness on an occasional basis. However, to really reap the benefits, try to make it a habit. Find some rituals and routines that work for you. For example, you could take five minutes to do some breathing exercises every evening. Staying in the present is a hard skill to master, but inner peace is well worth the effort.