Minfulness Optimised: Our guide to getting your head ready for training

The Practise

Meditation has been shown to help people stress less, focus more and sleep better. Our ‘Mindfulness Optimised’ guide is designed to help make meditation and mindfulness more simple, with easy to follow steps (without all the spiritual jargon).

By spending the next few weeks incorporating mindfulness into your routine and training your brain, you’ll learn mindfulness techniques you can apply to your everyday life. For some that means focusing more easily at work or the gym, and for others it’s offering more compassion in their relationships.

The Method:

1. Get Comfy

Start by finding a comfortable spot on the floor or on a chair. If this is a new experience for you, you’ll want to find a spot with minimal distractions (loud noises, away from the family, etc.). Posture isn’t too important at this stage, however make sure to not to lie down to avoid falling asleep.

2. Get in the ‘Zone’

Take a few deep breathes. In through the nose and out through the mouth. Take note of the body and how “heavy” it feels as you breathe out. Close your eyes to minimise distractions.

3. Listen Out

Keep an ear out for any sounds near or far that you might hear. Often we can use these noises to feel more present and get in touch with our surroundings. Don’t worry too much about what the noises are, let them come and go.

4. Feel Your Body

Begin to be more aware of the different sensations within your body. The sensation of weight is often the easiest and most obvious of these sensations. Feel the weight of your arms on your lap, feet on the floor, etc. Try not to look into any ‘niggles’ or aches in the body too much. Acknowledge that they are there and move on.

5. Breath

Figure out where in the body you can feel the breath the most. Perhaps it’s in the stomach or maybe you feel it in your chest. If you can’t work it out, place your hand on your stomach and feel the rise and fall.

6. Practise Mindfulness

Now that you’re settled in, use the breath as a tool to maintain a sense of mindfulness for any period of time (5-10 minutes is great start if this is your first time). As you breathe in count to 1, as you breathe out count to 2, and all the way to 10 then start again. If your mind wanders (and it will) no worry, try to remember what number you were up to and keep going. Let thoughts come and go and avoid suppressing any strong feelings or emotions, just keep up with the breath.

7. Return to Your Surroundings

After any given time, come back to all the sounds, sensations and even any strong smells. Slowly open your eyes (if they’re closed) and take a moment to appreciate what it feels like after you’ve meditated.

Before standing up, form a clear idea about what you’re going to do next. For example, are you going to the bathroom to brush your teeth, to the kitchen to make a cup of tea, or to pick up your keys before leaving the house? It’s so easy to just jump up off the seat and lose the calm and spacious quality you’ve so carefully cultivated. So try to carry this awareness with you to the next activity.

The Why:

1. STRESS LESS

Research suggest that meditating for 10 minutes or more can help reduce stress, anxiety and stave off symptoms of depression. In fact, a systematic review of 17 Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction studies found the program to be effective in reducing psychological and physiological symptoms of stress.

2. SLEEP BETTER

In combination with a well thought out bed time routine, mindfulness/ meditation before or throughout the day can help the mind build a better relationship with the process of falling asleep. A meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials for insomnia found that eight weeks of in-person meditation training significantly improved total waking time and sleep quality in patients with insomnia.

3. HEALTHIER RELATIONSHIPS

Being more in tune with our own feelings and emotions through mindfulness training can help build healthier relationships, studies suggest that mindfulness enhances couples’ levels of relationship satisfaction, autonomy, closeness and acceptance of each other, while reducing relationship distress.