We call mindfulness practice because the idea is to keep trying it until we start to get better at it. It takes a little work but with repetition, mindfulness becomes an automated habit.
The more we practice, the stronger our resilience muscle becomes. By paying full attention to what is going on in our body and mind, we can tune in to notice if we are stressed and need to regulate our nervous systems. Once we do this, then we can be able to manage more fully what is happening to us, feel more in control of the situation and respond skillfully, rather than reacting to it.
Some of the things you can try out are:
BreathworkBreathe in through your nose to the count of 7, then breathe out slowly through your mouth to the count of 11. Repeat until the feeling begins to dissipate.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Simply notice your body at regular intervals throughout the day – are your shoulders tight? Jaw clenched? Body hunched? If so, find a way to soften and let go of your body, making space in your chest by dropping your shoulders down and back. Repeat! When our body is soft and spacious, it has a direct effect on our mind and is a feedback loop.
Practice the S.T.O.P
S is for Stop/Pause: for just for a moment.
T is for taking a breath: or two or three, regulating your breathing.
O is for Observe: what are you seeing, smelling, tasting, hearing, feeling, and touching. Can we observe our experience with curiosity, taking from it learning and treating it with compassion
P is for Proceed, Playfully and with Possibility: when we do this practice we begin to train ourselves to be less reactive and judgemental to what is happening to us, and more curious, which ultimately arms us with more capacity to respond, wisely.
Engaging our senses
Pay attention to what you are doing, whilst you are doing it. This is helpful at any point during our day and includes brushing teeth, getting dressed, driving, eating, walking, cooking, showering, speaking with others, looking at our phone, etc. By paying full attention to the sensory experience of any daily routine activity we are doing that is normally done on autopilot, and, by doing we are more likely to notice the subtle changes going on inside us.
Walk on the wild side
Get out into nature to experience some fresh air with some awe and wonder. Sometimes the perspective of nature can massively help how we are feeling, both in our body and minds. Have a go at the 5,4,3,2,1 practices in the outdoors – finding 5 things you can see, 4 things you can hear, 3 things you can feel, 2 things you can smell, and 1 thing you can taste. Notice what impact it has on your wellbeing.
Ultimately, it is important to remember what nature teaches us, which is that nothing is permanent. All of our experiences, emotions, physical symptoms and thoughts come and go, so we always have a choice to remember ‘this too shall pass.’
This can be a comforting and empowering thing to remember when we are feeling helpless, out of control, or frustrated about what is happening to us. We can empower ourselves to be with the experience, knowing it won’t be like this forever, rather than resisting it and experiencing all the difficult emotions that come with not accepting what is.