Last month we learned how to make everyday routines mindful activities. Here we look further at how to bring our consciousness back to the present moment.
Words B-J Raben
Most of us spend long periods of time sitting in front of screens, whether computer, laptop, iPad, phone or other, often using more than one device at a time. As a consequence we can suffer from poor posture, lose the ability to keep a single focus or become easily distracted. To counteract this, we can use Mindfulness to help us stay focussed and remain in the present moment.
Mindfulness also encourages feelings of peace. It is said you can only be at peace when you stop thinking about things that have happened in the past or that might happen in future. When we do this, we are in the present moment which calms the brain and reduces stress levels. Similar to shutting down our hard drive and re-starting afresh, free of glitches.
TAKING AN AWARENESS BREAK
These simple exercises help open our chests, oxygenate our brains and counteract hunching shoulders. They also help us bring our awareness back to the present moment.
Keep your mind focused on your breath throughout and before you begin really feel the ground beneath your feet (whether you are standing or sitting with your feet on the floor, barefoot or wearing shoes) this will make you ‘grounded’, which is a feeling of being firmly rooted to the ground and feeling stable. Start by doing each exercise three times and increase as you like. Take as long as you need with each exercise.
OPENING THE LUNGS
Close your eyes to bring your consciousness inwards. Place your left hand on your stomach and your right hand on your chest. Take a long deep breath through your nose drawing the air slowly up from the very bottom of your belly. Really feel your lungs fill with air, your chest rise and your belly contract. Count to six as you do this and pause at the top of your breath. Next, gently exhale through your nose, counting to eight as you go. Feel your chest fall and your belly rise as the air leaves your lungs. Don’t force the exhalation, just let the air gradually escape until you reach a still point. Repeat a minimum of three times and notice the seesaw effect between your chest and your abdomen.
RELEASING THE NECK SIDEWAYS
With a gentle fluid movement, whilst keeping your back straight, slowly turn your head to the right. When it has reached its limit, gently ease it a little more with your left hand (not too far, encourage a further stretch but not to push it). Hold for the count of three. Repeat on the other side, doing three rounds. You can turn this into one fluid movement, exhaling as you make the turn and inhaling as you come back to central position. Keep your mind focussed on your breath.
RELEASING THE NECK FRONT/BACK
Again with a gentle fluid movement whilst keeping your back straight, inhale deeply and bring your chin in down to your chest. Keep your shoulders down and back. Hold and count to six, then exhale deeply and stretch your neck out fully, raising your chin to above your head, being mindful not to arch your back. Hold and count to six and repeat.
RELEASING THE FRONT OF THE SHOULDERS
Keep your back straight, feel the ground beneath your feet, push your arms out straight in front of you and interlock your fingers, with a long out-breath slowly stretch your arms above your head. Keep the arms very straight. Be careful not to arch your back or stick your ribcage out. Stretch your arms up so the tops of your arms are parallel with your ears, being mindful not to let your shoulders rise. Hold for the count of six, taking a relaxed breath. Now, with a deep exhalation, keeping your arms straight, slowly bring your arms back down to your sides. Change the interlock of your fingers and repeat.
RELEASING THE BACK OF THE SHOULDERS
Now interlock your hands behind your back. Straighten your arms and with a long deep exhalation, slowly push them downwards and slightly away from your body. Hold for the count of six. Change the interlock of your fingers and repeat.
The routine can take just five minutes but the benefits are immense as it encourages opening our chests, re-oxygenating our brains, calming the mind and stretching out our muscles to avoid tension building. The feeling of peacefulness that comes with being Mindful is the icing on the cake!