5 minute mindfulness
Prayer and reflection can offer people of faith an opportunity for calm in an otherwise hectic world. But what of people with no faith, or people who are looking for something to help them focus on their mental health.
Mindfulness means paying attention to your experience in the present moment. As simple as it sounds, this can help us to stop getting caught up in our thoughts, which, when times are worrying, can cause us to feel anxious.
Of course, simple is not the same as easy. We humans are used to ‘living in our heads’ and it can be difficult to concentrate on the present moment. But our brain can only focus on one thing at a time, so every moment we can spend focusing on our bodies and senses is one less moment we spend in a cycle of thoughts and worries.
You may also think that five minutes is too small an amount of time to make a difference but, in our world of constant business and distractions, five minutes can be all it takes to set a positive tone for your whole day.
Concentrating on your own breath is a very popular way of practicing mindfulness, and it also tends to make us breathe slower and more deeply, which in itself can help us to feel calm. Practicing awareness of sounds is another one you can do anywhere, and you’d be surprised what you can hear when you really listen.
Even washing our hands can be an opportunity to practice mindfulness:
- Before you start to wash your hands, stop and connect with your breath or the sensations of your feet on the floor
- As you put your hands under the water, really concentrate on how it feels on your hands and fingers
- As you rub soap into your hands, wash them and dry them, concentrate on all of your senses; what can you smell, see, feel and hear?
- If you notice the mind wandering off, just concentrate on your breath, and return to where you left off.
You may find that you’d prefer to be guided through a mindfulness meditation by a teacher via audio or video. You can find many free mindfulness meditations and apps online. Try some of them to see what’s best for you.
To get you started, you may want to try a guided meditation from Headspace, a very popular meditation and mindfulness app in the UK. You can access a free, five minute guided meditation here.