Quick, Easy Mindfulness Practices for lockdown and beyond!
Mindfulness Practices work
It’s simple, not magic; you just train your mind to build you up not stress you out. No waiting times. No darkened room meditations either. Start now, what have you to lose?
So just for you, an extract from my forthcoming book How to ‘Mind the Gap’ between Stress and Wellbeing. I’m not waiting, I’m sharing with you now some great ways to get mindful and look after your stress and anxiety levels too. You can find more at www.fionachapman.online
Stressed - What’s happening to me?
It’s simple really. Your mind thinks it’s helping by ramping up the stress and speeding up your ability to spot the dangers. The mind then starts looking for the potential threats and of course finds them or thinks it does! This negative cycle drops your mood, wears you out and makes you feel less able to cope. And the cycle goes on becoming firmly fixed in your automatic thinking brain. Mindfulness gets us out of that automatic thinking cycle into the now. Helps us to slow the brain, to step back from our fears and stressors and pick thoughts and feelings that help not hinder.
Loving Lockdown? Hating Lockdown?
Maybe you’re managing fine or maybe it’s made you realise you don’t want the chaotic pace of before and can create something better? So why not use this opportunity to start bringing mindfulness approaches and practices into your life? Mindfulness gives you an opportunity to calm the mind; to focus on your now but the real big win is it grows your coping mechanisms. It grows your ability to not get sucked into the drama, your fears and usual stressors.
Not okay with meditation?
You don’t have to meditate to be Mindful – use approaches and techniques instead.
I've picked three from my next book to help you to
Calm those anxious feelings;
Live in the NOW;
Deal with Conflict – inner and outer, dealing with people who have got your goat!
No Perfects or Trying Please
Clients often say I am trying to do the exercise and my response is always the same. Just do the exercises, you don’t have to try, just do and you’re bringing in change. Your mind doesn’t need perfect; it just needs showing what to do.
Exercise One - Soothe Stress and Anxiety
Practice this with the instructions in front of you. Once you are used to the exercise you will be able to use it as you go about your day. Maybe taking just a few minutes here and there to start showing your mind how you need it to work for you.
Notice and acknowledge the uncertainty as it comes to mind. Accept these are anxious times.
Pause and focus on your breath. Notice your breath coming in and going out.
Remind yourself this is just the worry talking. Tell yourself this need for certainty is not helpful and not necessary. There is nothing more for you to do. It is only a thought or feeling. Don't believe everything you think or feel. Thoughts are not statements or facts. They are just thoughts.
Release the thought or feeling. It will pass. Imagine the thoughts and feelings floating away in a bubble or cloud. Far away until you cannot see them.
Focus on your present moment, because right now, in this moment, all is well. Remind yourself you are doing okay.
Notice your breathing and the sensations of your breathing. Notice the ground beneath you. Look around and name everything you see, hear, touch, and smell.
Refocus your attention to something else - on what you need to do, on what you were doing before you noticed the worry.
Refocus mindfully with your full attention on what you are doing.
Exercise Two – Get into the NOW
Finger Tap Meditation
This is a lovely active meditation adapted by a young client who used it to calm himself in the classroom. He’s happy to share and many clients have reported how useful it has proved. The beauty is that you can do it anywhere, anytime. You can even do this with others too.
This is adapted from the popular the walking meditations for more information visit https://www.fionachapman.online/blog
Just make sure you are comfortable, either sitting or standing. Try to make sure your feet are firmly on the floor and legs are uncrossed.
Decide which seven fingers and thumbs you are going to use. If you are left handed use the finger and thumb on your right hand and your fingers and thumb on your left hand. Curl your ‘spare fingers’ out of the way.
Rest the ‘working fingers’ on your lap or a table in front of you. Make sure you can tap with each finger onto a surface.
Lift your seven fingers and thumbs and tap each one down. Counting each downward tap one to seven.
Now here comes the fun bit – when you reach tap 7, reverse your finger taps starting at 2 and count each finger tap to 8 (using multiples of 7).
When you reach tap 8 reverse your finger taps. Let the next finger tap start at 3 until you reach 9. Keep going up and down with your finger taps always counting on one as your starter number i.e. starting at 1 then 2 then 3 etc. Always count on in sevens before starting again at the next highest start number.
So you would start at 1 to 7, then 2 to 8, 3 to 9, 4 to 10 and so on.
Continue counting on each tap until you stumble or hesitate. Then just go back to counting from 1-7 and upwards again.
Essential Point - If at any point you get lost, confused or hesitate YOU MUST start again at 1 to 7 and then 2 to 8 and so on. Not only does this keep your mind busy, in the now, away from building those stressful emotions but it also gives your mind a powerful message, it’s OK to make mistakes, I can sort it easily!
When you decide to stop tapping focus on your ‘now’ and carry on with what you are doing, until you next tapping session!
Just a few minutes a day will help you to discharge some of that stress and impact positively on your well-being.
Just in case you didn’t know
Science has proven just 5 minutes of mindfulness practice every day is all that’s needed to grow your calmer mind-set.
And that’s it; remember there is no competition and no judgements on how good you are at it. Forget judgements and allow yourself to become involved in the process. I haven’t managed to get past starting to count at 5 and it really doesn’t matter. It’s the process, focusing the mind, being in the now, breaking out of stressful patterns of thinking, growing more helpful thinking patterns.
Exercise Three –Trigger Compassion not Conflict
How to Hide Your Goat – it’s an old expression, they get my goat. It means someone gets on your nerves, irritates you. They push your buttons and you struggle not to respond negatively to them. Anyone come to mind right now?
So when ‘they’ ‘get your goat’ the simple answer is to move your goat!
‘A la lockdown’ some of us are spending so much more time with people in a limited living area. It only shows we are human, if at times, we feel irritated by their habits and behaviours. This exercise helps us maintain a more balanced approach and helps us treat the situation with kindness rather than aggression. Helps us see the other person as just doing their best. It really helps to realise that is most definitely what we all are doing! Just getting by!
Change your View
Whatever ‘they’ are doing, be it at home, work or sometime, someplace it may not always match our view of okay.
So it’s a conflict and conflicts resolve better if these important things happen:
We see the other’s viewpoint.
We can be assertive not aggressive.
We can depersonalise the situation. See it as a thing, event or issue that needs sorting.
We focus on the ‘we’ have a problem and ‘we’ can sort it. Win! Win!
It’s just something - not something that means something else or pushes our buttons or threatens your status, ego etc.!
How to do that - Use Compassionate Mind
This mindfulness practice connects us with our compassionate mind. Encouraging us to bypass anger, the defend or fight option and instead look for solutions that suit both parties. By allowing compassion to flow rather than feelings of irritation, frustration, hurt, even anger we build our ability to cope. Allowing us to tackle everyday interactions, voice our needs, concerns and achieve a far better result in our relationships with others and ourselves. We build our resilience.
Think of or someone you find it difficult to get on with at times. Or maybe someone who you find it difficult to be with, work with or even like.
Get yourself comfortable and in a place where you can switch off for a few minutes. Imagine, pretend this person is sat in front of you.
Remind yourself this is a person just like you.
Repeat the following phrases. Use their name or say this person:
Just like me, this person has a body and a mind.
Just like me, this person has feelings, thoughts and emotions.
The same as me this person has felt unhappy, sad about things.
Just like me this person has been let down, disappointed at some time.
Just like me this person has been angry and hurt.
Just like me this person has feelings of not being good enough..
Just like me this person this person worries, just like me.
Just like me this person is frightened sometimes.
Just like me this person needs friends.
Just like me this person wants to be happy.
Just like me this person is kind.
Just like me this person wants to be loved and liked.
Now send them some good wishes to you and them. Tell them the things you would like to hear, just as if you were talking to yourself, talk to them.
You might say:
I wish you well, just like me.
I wish that you’ll be happy, just like me.
I wish that you’ll have many people to help you and the same for me too.
I wish that you’ll be loved, just like me.
I wish you success and the same for me too.
Now thank yourself for doing this mindfulness practice.
ell yourself you did really well. No ifs or buts or worries that it was not perfect. You did it that is enough.
Congratulate yourself on completing each mindfulness practice every time, every day.