“We take care of the future best by taking care of the present now” (Kabat-Zinn,1994)
How Mindfulness Can Help Us Through Challenging Times
We are all feeling anxious at the moment, it’s a natural and logical response to such uncertain times.
Creating space in the day to pause, step away from the worried mind, and come back into the present moment has been shown to be enormously helpful in alleviating the negative effects of how we respond to stress. We can use mindfulness as a practice that can heighten our awareness to how we are, right now, in this very moment. Awareness to body and mind, paying attention to how you are, what you are thinking, how you are feeling. When we become present, we are more likely to gain perspective and see that we have the power to regulate our response to pressure.
Mini Meditation / Pause
The 3-step breathing space known as a ‘mini meditation’ or a ‘pause’ is a short practice that you can weave into your day and can be done any time. It was created by the founders of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) John Teasdale, Mark Williams and Zindel Segal. Designed to be done in 3 minutes, one minute per step, using each step to guide you through the meditation. It can be done in a quicker time, if necessary.
Step 1: Check in to see how you’re feeling right now.
Whether you are sitting or standing, pause, become aware, observe without judging what’s going on in your mind and body at this moment. Ask yourself: What is my experience right now? What thoughts are going through my mind? What feelings are here? What body sensations are here right now?
Step 2: Shift your attention to the breath.
Narrow your attention to focus on the sensations of the breath in the stomach. Sensing the abdomen rising and falling as the breath comes in and goes out. Follow the breath all the way in and all the way out.
Step 3: Expand your awareness around the breath to take in the rest of your body.
Observe your whole-body breathing. As if you are taking your attention on a tour of the body as a whole: face, shoulders, chest, abdomen, legs, feet, hands, arms, shoulders. If there are sensations of discomfort in an area, take your awareness there by breathing into them and breathing out of them.
The next time you hear something unsettling about the current crisis, become aware of how you receive this information. Is there anxiety or worry in the form of thoughts, feelings or sensations in the body? Return to the sensations of the breath, sensing the breath come all the way in and out, if you prefer, sense the connection that the feet are making with the ground, – big toe, little toe and all the toes in between, the middle of both feet and heels. This helps to centre and reorient us back to the present moment.
Remember to acknowledge yourself for taking this time. This is a great act of self-care.
You can read Denise’s ‘Introduction to Mindfulness’ article right here.
*Please note that Health Services Staffs Credit Union is not an expert on mindfulness techniques and that all above advice is from Denise Coleman, qualified mindfulness teacher and HSSCU scholarship recipient. Any views above are not made on behalf of HSSCU.
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