This insightful blog was written by Jessica Lanham, a Study Skills tutor for the Learning Support Centre.
The practice of mindfulness is increasingly being used in many settings to reduce stress and anxiety. Research has shown that daily mindfulness practice can minimise the negative effects of stress and anxiety and promotes well-being. Based on ancient Buddhist meditation practice, mindfulness is all about being present and aware of our thoughts, feelings and emotions. It focusses on breathing, locating sensations in our bodies and observing our thoughts without judgement. MBSR (mindfulness based stress reduction) programs have been widely adapted in schools, further and higher education institutions, hospitals and the workplace.
Mindfulness is an accessible practice and can be done anywhere! It’s important to schedule specific times in the day, so you can stop and take time out to breathe. Ideally, aim to practice breathing mindfully for 5 minutes a day. Over time you can build up your practice.
A guided practice podcast can be found at http://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/help-information/podcasts/mindfulness-10-minute/
You can also download the fantastic Headspace app to your phone, which also includes daily practice guides. https://www.headspace.com/headspace-meditation-app/
Here is a short breathing exercise to get you started!
- Sit in a comfortable, upright position with both feet on the floor
- Place your hands on your thighs and relax your shoulders
- Close your eyes or focus on a reference point in the room
- Take your awareness to your body and breath
- Gently notice each breath
- Observe the in-breath expanding the body
- Observe the out-breath leaving the body
- Bring your awareness to any thoughts, emotions or sensations in the body
- Notice and accept these and gently let them go without judgement
- Redirect your attention back to the breath. Focussing on the experience of the in-breath and out-breath
- When you are ready, slowly bring your attention back to your surroundings