It's important to me to start each day with a fresh mind, fresh heart, and fresh perspective. Sometimes I’m easily able to achieve this and others it takes more work. Since starting college, I’ve always struggled with an overactive mind – making mental lists and scenarios in my head, especially at night. This always interfered with sleep and left me restless! To help with this, I started practicing meditation and breathing exercises, and use a planner to organize my time and priorities. I also try to leave a note pad or sticky notes on my nightstand to write down anything I can’t stop thinking about. This helps them to “disappear” from my thoughts and calm my mind.
I try to practice different mindfulness exercises daily, but especially any time I feel overwhelmed. There are so many approaches to mindful breathing, but my favorite is both fast and easy, only taking a few minutes! There are 3 steps, each practiced for 1 minute. I start by sitting on the floor in a comfortable position, against a wall if possible. I focus a lot on posture, keeping a neutral spine and making sure I’m sitting with shoulders back and head level, not forward or with rounded shoulders. I focus on being a belly breather and not a chest breather – I’m going to be doing an additional post about this in the near future so stay tuned for that! I sit in a quiet room with dimmed lights, sometimes playing soft background music (i.e. rain) and start the process.
Step 1 involves focusing on my current state – thoughts, feelings, and sensations. I might think of these individually or just get an overall collective sense. I focus here for at least one minute. Next, I move on to Step 2 where I solely focus on my breathing – making sure to feel each breath in my belly and not my chest. (You can place one hand on the chest and one hand on the belly to feel this!) Again, stay here for a minute - or longer if you are loving this step! The final step builds upon the breathing aspect of step 2, focusing on how this affects your thoughts, feelings, and sensations. I try to take slow, deeper breaths to help calm my mind and body, and try to let any negative thoughts/feelings go. You can repeat this process if necessary, or hold out on a certain step longer. If you're someone who can't seem to shut their brain off at night, try this a few minutes before bed time!
Do any of you practice meditation or mindfulness exercises? Do you have a favorite way? Is this a topic you enjoy reading about or something you want to learn more about? Let me know below!
"In a world full of doing doing doing, it's important to take a moment to just breathe, to just be..."