By guest contributor and yoga practitioner, Dani Binnington
As a yoga teacher, I love guiding my students through meditation exercises. It’s beautiful to see how each body relaxes and softens as minds are encouraged to be more attentive to what is going on inside. Meditation can help you more aware of your thoughts and, rather than pushing them away, simply recognise them in a non-judgemental way. This then leads to greater acceptance, which is the first step towards positive transformation. Here are a few of my top tips for incorporating mindfulness meditation into your day…
Use guided meditation apps
If you don’t have time to go to a class, there are hundreds of free and paid-for resources online that have a huge supply of guided meditations. My newest favorite app is Insight Timer(https://insighttimer.com). Choose a length, theme and voice to suit you and simple press start. Short daily meditations are more powerful than one long weekly sitting.
Try sphere breath meditation
Of all meditation exercises, breathing techniques are often the simplest. You can try this one while you’re waiting for the kettle to boil or just before you go to bed. I love aligning hand movements with breath to aid concentration.
- Sit comfortably and bring your palms together in front of your chest.
- Upon your inhale, open your hands to form a sphere, by keeping the fingertips together, just releasing at the base of the hands.
- As you exhale, press your palms together as in the prayer position. Inhale into a sphere. Repeat this for a couple of minutes.
Try 10-finger breathing
This is a great tool when your mind is super-frantic. The sensory support of using your index finger will help you stay connected. It only takes a few minutes so it’s a great one to squeeze into your lunchbreak or when you get home from work.
- Sit up tall and bring the index finger of your right hand onto the base of your wrist on your left hand.
- As you inhale, draw your index finger to the tip of your pinkie, as you exhale deeply run your finger down to the base of your pinkie.
- Inhale and run your finger to the tip of your ring finger, exhale down to the base.
- Continue this until you end with your thumb and then with to the other side.
Make friends with mantras
Repeating words over and over again can help you feel more centred and calm. It’s an easy thing to do while walking to work or the local shop. My current favourite is: ‘I am grounded, loved and connected.’ Repeat this over and over again until you feel the soothing benefits.
Visualise a happy place
Conjuring up images is easy and you can do it anywhere, anytime – whether you’re in your bedroom or on a busy commuter train. Picture an idyllic scene or place yourself in your favourite spot – somewhere that makes you feel relaxed and soothed. Visualise all the small details: if it’s a beach, see yourself slowly pacing the sand; smell the salty air; feel the wind on your skin.
Do a body scan
This is a great exercise for when you’re feeling anxious, or perhaps when you’re unwell but are not sure what exactly is wrong.
Mentally scan your body from head to toe, almost as if you had a magnifying glass that is running over your entire body. It helps you understand what you are experiencing physically, which can also be helpful when speaking to a friend or healthcare professional.
Try walking meditation
This requires no extra time out of your day as you can do it whenever you need walk anywhere. Often, we walk while on auto-pilot, dwelling on things that happened in the past or worrying about the future. A walking meditation brings you closer to your present. Feel the earth underneath you shoes; notice your surroundings – the weather, trees, people, flowers, sounds, everything. Why not try it this lunchtime? Forget work and simply immerse yourself in your surroundings. You’ll return to work feeling refreshed.
Dani Binnington is a yoga practitioner, family wellbeing expert and creator of healthywholeme.com, which is full of delicious recipes, wellbeing tips and inspiration for a healthy family lifestyle.