Taking Time for your Mind

8 Apr 2021 10:09AM by Char Holmes

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Mindfulness, meditation, yoga: it can all seem like an overwhelming unknown, so much so that we shy away from trying any of it for fear of not being able to do it properly or just not ‘getting it’! 

Mindfulness, for me, is coming back to my true self. A short moment in time to, really, ‘feel’.

Where is my mind?

The past year has forced us inside. Not just physically inside into our houses, but mentally too – inside our heads! We have spent more time with ourselves than ever before, forced to sit with our thoughts and our mind without the usual distractions. For some, this has been uncomfortable and challenging.

The idea that we have ‘negative’ and ‘positive’ thoughts and feelings is, in my opinion, rubbish. Nothing we feel is negative/positive, right/wrong, good/bad; it just is. Understanding how we feel and why we feel can only be something learnt, as anything, through practice. 

Learning to stop, sit, listen and feel throughout various moments in our day and times in our lives can help us dissect the inner workings of ourselves and allow us to better understand our reactions, patterns and habits in our work, home and social lives.

“Understanding how we feel and why we feel can only be something learnt, as anything, through practice.”

How does mindfulness help?

Adding moments of mindfulness to your daily routine will not only make you feel instantly better, but over prolonged practice and an extended time have heaps of scientifically proven physical and mental health benefits including;

  • Reduced anxiety
  • Increased creativity
  • Reduced blood pressure
  • Improved quality of sleep
  • Enhanced memory
  • Increased productivity
  • Reduced stress
  • Increased sex drive
  • Better mood
  • Helps conquer addiction
Now if that list is not long enough, perhaps just do it to have a moment to yourself – away from work/family/stress/kids/life. This is a moment for you to reconnect to yourself.

Mindfulness at Virgin Active 
Recognising the importance of incorporating mindfulness into my team’s work life and mine, I’ve introduced virtual sessions in house at Virgin Active. For us, it’s important to make sure our members are well but if the team behind the members aren’t, then the wheels will start to fall off. 

Hosted by the yoga team, we hold bi-weekly, 20-minute mindfulness sessions as a chance for the wider team to connect in a work environment – about something other than work. 

The mixture of breath work, guided meditation and movement has strengthened our work team community, injected energetic breaks into our days and brought moments of peace throughout the week.

“Mindfulness has strengthened our work team community…”

“How do I become more mindful?”
Mindfulness sounds great, right? But where do you start? Here are a few ideas to kick off your personal mindfulness journey with ease;

  • Observe your breathing – close your eyes, notice the speed/temperature/ease of your breath. Where in the body is your breath travelling?
  • Eating mindfully – take your food away from screens and other people, sit alone and after the first mouthful notice, how does this food taste? How many times do I chew before I swallow? Can I take more time?
  • Walking mindfully – a 5-10 minute walk alone, without your phone or music. Slow your pace. What can I see? Which part of my foot touches the ground first? If I speed up does that change?
  • Connect to your senses – stop, sit still and close your eyes. What can I hear? What can I smell? What can I taste? How do my clothes feel against my skin?
  • Pause between actions – book-end your working day with a pause. Ahead of opening your laptop/switching on your PC and again after you have closed it down in the evening, spend a minute sat still with your eyes closed to observe your breath and notice how you feel.
  • Listen intently – next time you ask someone how they are, really sit and listen to their response. Give them time to answer and give your considered response accordingly.
  • Get lost doing something you love – walking, reading, cooking, singing, painting… and if none of these take your fancy then try having a little boogie in the shower – I dare you!

For some more top tips on mindfulness and to help understand more how you’re feeling, check out this article from the NHS.

I hope these moments of mindfulness come more frequently to your life and bring you joy. For more, join me on the mat at Virgin Active with an Online+ membership for online workouts for just £9.99/month or join me in club.

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