As we sit down to write this month’s article, it struck us how much has happened since we wrote our Covid-19 (Coronavirus) article way back in February. We have had the country sent into ‘lockdown’, the news is full of the virus and the daily death rates and, as we write this, the Prime Minister is in hospital with his symptoms. A lot of us are referring to the current climate as ‘weird’ or ‘strange’ as we are unable to do the things that we have been routinely doing.
The Positives in the UK
In this article we don’t want to focus on the negativity that surrounds the world, we want to focus in on finding ways of finding the positives and keeping the positive mindset going forward.
Clap for our carers
Firstly, let’s look at the positives that have been happening around the UK over recent weeks. I think the first thing we would look to happens at 8pm on a Thursday, and is due to take place again this evening (at time of publishing) for a 4th time. And that of course is the Clap for our Carers. This has been something that has reminded the amazing people that work in the NHS and care for others that they are very much appreciated for their hard work and dedication, as well as, for placing themselves at risk of the virus for the benefit of others. Here at The Training Fox we say thank you to them.
The other positive that has come to light in the world since lockdown, is the sense of being in it all together, there are members of the community who, while maintaining social distancing, are checking on their older members of the community, doing shopping or fetching medication for them as and when necessary.
Finally, millions of rainbows have appeared in the windows of many houses across towns, cities and villages across the UK. These are a symbol of spreading hope and a way of maintaining the morale for children and families everywhere. We also like the old saying:
At the end of a rainbow, there’s a pot of gold!
Having now taken a look at the events that have occurred, we wanted to look at keeping a positive mindset going forward. One way of maintaining a positive mindset is using a technique called Mindfulness.
So, what is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a technique that can be learnt. The technique involves making a special effort to focus on what is happening in the present moment; this could be in your mind, body or surroundings. It is also about not judging anything in the present moment, maintaining the positivity. Many people find that practising mindfulness helps them in their day-to-day well-being. The technique of mindfulness however is not for everyone.
Where does Mindfulness come from?
Mindfulness origins are rooted in Buddhist philosophy and practice tradition more than two and a half thousand years old. The practice of Mindfulness is, in itself, an effective practice without any religious context of Buddhism, and it is often taught as a non-sectarian practice in western society.
Some people who actively practise Mindfulness like to explore the religious underpinnings of Buddhism; this has been known to deepen the understanding of the technique, but it is not necessary to get the benefits from Mindfulness practice.
What are the aims of Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is designed to help you:
- Become more self-aware,
- Feel calmer, with less stress,
- Feel more able to choose how to respond to your own thoughts and feelings,
- Cope with difficult or unhelpful thoughts,
- Be kinder towards yourself.
All of these aims are important for a person’s mental health, and the way that they feel about themselves.
‘Be at one with yourself before others’
How does Mindfulness work?
It is important to understand that the way you think, as well as what you think about, can affect the way that you feel and act. If you worry or think a lot about upsetting past events, you may then feel sad, anxious or even have a sense of self-loathing.
The whole idea around Mindfulness as found in the Buddhist background is to use various techniques to bring your focus back to the here and now present moment; it usually helps you to focus in on your body, breathing and mind.
Mindfulness can help you to:
- Notice how thoughts come and go in your mind,
- Notice what your body is telling you,
- Create space between you and your thoughts.
How can I try Mindfulness today?
As we are in an unprecedented time, we thought that you may need, or benefit from, some techniques that you can try today to help your own mindfulness. Some of these will need a little bit of planning depending on what you have at home, others can take place right now, these include:
- Mindful colouring and drawing,
- Mindful moving, walking or running,
- Mindful eating,
- Body scan,
- Mindful meditation,
So, let’s explore these a little further.
Mindful colouring and drawing
As you draw and/or colour, focus on the colours and the sensation of the pencil against the paper as opposed to the feeling of trying to draw something in particular. If you want to you could go to your local store (on your food shopping trip) and pick up a mindfulness colouring book, usually found in the magazine section, or a simple search online will find you many images that you can colour in. An example page you could go to is:
While researching for this article we found this mindfulness image:
Why not click on the fox image to download and print it in order to colour in the image, then show us on our social media feeds your end results, using #MindfulnessFox!
Mindful moving, walking or running
As you are out on your allowed daily exercise, notice the feeling of your body moving. You might even go further and feel the breeze on your skin, the feeling of your feet and hands as they touch different surfaces and textures; it is also good to focus on the different smells that are all around you, you might even notice smells you haven’t noticed before.
The idea behind mindful eating is to focus in on the taste, sight and texture of what you eat and drink. An example that Mindful eating provides is think about a hot cup of tea or coffee, as you drink this focus on how hot and liquid it feels on your tongue, how sweet it tastes or you could focus on the steam that comes off it.
The body scan really stems from the meditation of the Buddhist origins of the technique. In order to utilise this, you will move your attention slowly through the different parts of your body, starting from the top of your head, working slowly down to the end of your toes. The idea is to focus on feelings of warmth, tension, tingling, or relaxation of different parts of your body.
The whole idea of mindful meditation is to sit quietly and focus on your breathing, thoughts, sensations in your body and things that you can hear around you. As your mind starts to wander bring your mind back to the present moment that you are in.
This is a technique which blurs the lines between 2 religions: Buddhism and Hinduism. Yoga is one of the 6 orthodox schools of Hindu Philosophical traditions. It is a group of physical, mental and spiritual practices. Some people have yoga DVDs, or even still use their Wii games’ consoles to do yoga. You can even do yoga online from the comfort of your own home.
How can I get the most from mindfulness?
There are some key steps to be taken in order to get the most from the exercises:
|Pay attention||Make a special effort to pay attention to the moment you are in, for example in the tea and coffee example earlier.|
|Notice||Pay attention to your mind wandering, it is normal for a mind to wander, just notice where your thoughts have drifted to.|
|Choose and return||Choose to bring your attention back to the present moment, usually by focusing on your breathing or another sensation on the body.|
|Be aware and accept||Notice and be aware of the emotions you are feeling and/or sensations on your body. It is important to try to recognise and accept these feelings without judgement but more with a friendly curiosity.|
|Be kind to yourself||It is really important that you remember that mindfulness is difficult to do and our minds will always wander. Try not to be critical of yourself, simply notice your mind is wandering, and gently bring yourself back to the exercise you are focusing on.|
|Set aside regular time to practise||Regular short periods of mindful meditation can work better than the occasional long one. If you struggle to find the time, it may be an idea to decide on one or two routine activities that you carry out which you can try to do mindfully each day.|
|Make yourself comfortable||It can benefit you to do Mindfulness in a space where you feel safe and comfortable, and where you won’t be easily distracted.|
Build your practice up slowly. It is important to remember that you are building a new skill and it will take time to build this up.
Most people will find it hard to sit and meditate for a long period to begin with; start small and grow your time up.
|Be patient||There is absolutely no need to set any ambitious goals or targets or to put any pressure on yourself to achieve anything. Take your time to feel comfortable in completing mindfulness exercises and activities.|
A little bit of mindfulness at this time can help with maintaining positive mental health. If you are someone who suffers with mental health problems, studies have shown that mindfulness can help to manage depression, anxiety and stress. However, it is important to remember that it is not for everyone and if it doesn’t work for you, remember that it is absolutely fine and there is going to be something out there that works for you.
Can I dip in and out of it?
There is nothing to say that you absolutely have to do some mindfulness activity all the time, it may be that you just need a moment of relaxation, have tried the usual things and now you want to try something else, in that case why not give it a go. Don’t feel under pressure to do anything, just find that thing that allows you to focus on yourself with no pressure.
Remember, in this unusual time that we find ourselves,
Firstly, look after yourself, use your exercise time for fresh air,
Stay home, Protect the NHS, Save lives.