The information on this post is taken from my own first-hand experience. If you have any concerns about practicing meditation and mindfulness, please consult your GP or a mental health care professional.
Mindfulness and meditation
I’ve been practicing mindfulness and meditation for a year and I wanted to share some of the benefits I’ve experienced should anyone wish to give it a go in 2016.
I’ve always wanted to calm my mind. A few years ago, I attended yoga classes followed by the University of Oxford meditation society. On both occasions, I struggled to relax in a room of people and I found sitting on the floor gave me cramp. Not very zen!
I’d completely given up when two things happened, firstly I sat next to Mark Williams – the founder of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy and author of Mindfulness: A practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world – at a dinner who gave me an amazing insight into the practice. Then I discovered Andy Puddicombe and his easy to use Headspace app. After downloading the app and working through the 30-day trial, I began to believe it was possible to calm my overthinking mind.
‘Life isn’t as serious as the mind makes it out to be’ – Eckhart Tolle
One year on and I feel I have a greater understanding of my mind and by taking time out, I’m certainly doing some good. The changes have been subtle, but they’ve had quite an impact on my outlook. So here are a few of the benefits I’ve experienced from practising mindfulness and meditation.
A year of mindfulness and meditation..
An increased awareness of how I feel
Taking the time to stop and observe my thoughts is an insightful thing. Sometimes I feel stressed and busy but when I meditate I find my mind is peaceful. I’m beginning to understand there’s a difference between how I’m feeling and how I think I’m feeling. There’s space between me and my thoughts and this is something I wasn’t aware of before meditation.
A calmer and more spacious mind
Space in my home, my diary and my mind make me feel happy and at ease. And through meditation, I’m able to find space even on days when there’s too much to do. It helps me to pause and stops me feeling overwhelmed.
Easing unnecessary worry
Before meditating, I would occasionally wake up in the middle of the night worrying about things. Through mindfulness, I’m able to gently acknowledge the worry and focus on my breath. And in doing this, I feel an immediate ease in my body as I let go. I wish this technique had been taught in school because it would have removed many sleepless nights!
Learning to be present
I don’t think we’ve ever had as many distractions and so being present can feel like a continuous battle. Through mindfulness, I have learnt to gently note my thoughts and return to the breath and the present moment. And by practising almost daily meditation, I find it’s something I’m beginning to do naturally. If we’re no longer reliving the past or worrying about the future then life is a whole lot simpler.
Enjoying having nothing to do
With a life full of activity, technology and an ever-growing to-do list, we rarely have nothing to do. And so, one of the best things about meditation is just being present. It’s like pressing pause so I can fully appreciate the here and now. I love the stillness and sense of peace and for fifteen minutes it’s a joy to have nothing to do.
Knowing there’s always a blue sky
There’s always calm and blue sky and the more you meditate the easier it is to find these places when things get tough. I’ll admit to occasionally getting wrapped up in emotion however when my feelings are light I’m able to return to the tranquil place in my mind and observe the emotion rather than become it. It’s good to imagine the blue sky because it makes the grey days a whole lot sunnier!
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These photographs were taken using the 4k photo setting on the Lumix GH4. It was invigorating filming a weir from above and capturing the extreme speed of the water. The cold air and noise certainly made me feel present! It took just 30 seconds to capture and then I could put my camera away and enjoy the day. You can read more about 4k photography here.
I hope you have a wonderful day!
This post is a sponsored collaboration with Panasonic. All views are my own.