Last updated on July 2, 2021
[Edited 2/7/21 to add that having recorded and shared 6 months’ worth of Monday to Friday videos and sharing them across my IGTV, YouTube and other platforms, I’m going to be sharing a wider range of tools now. You can continue to access these videos by scrolling back through my IGTV and YouTube channels]
Read the original post below:
Your Daily Mindful Minute
You can access these videos via my social media channels
Mindfulness has SO many benefits. While the practices go back thousands of years, the Dalai Lama has been supporting neuroscientific research to help us better understand how it works.
Jon Kabat-Zinn brought Mindfulness to a secular (non religious) audience decades ago and it’s exploded in the past decade or so as people – from new parents to CEOs – reap the benefits.
With practice, we can strengthen the parts of the brain that correlate to better mood, better decision making, relating to others better, overall executive function and soothing the parts of the brain that are associated with stress, anxiety, sleep issues and trauma
Most importantly, it’s a simple habit to help you connect with your Self as well as your breath.
You can read some of my features about mindfulness and yoga HERE including this feature I wrote about the benefits of mindfulness for Healthy magazine (July 2014)
If you’re interested, Sharon Begley’s The Plastic Mind is fascinating on studies showing how these ancient practices hold up. And while long term meditators demonstrate the biggest brain changes, even novice mindfulness practitioners show improvements.
A MINUTE is easy to fit in to your day
It’s been part of my daily morning yoga and meditation practice every single day since March 2013. I finally stopped resisting what I’d known to be good for me for over a decade after hearing Jon Kabat-Zinn in London.
He was so gentle around it, it suddenly stopped feeling like a ‘I should‘ and became a ‘I wanna!’ I stuck the little orange dot sticker I’d had on my hand for entry to the event on my bedroom lightswitch.
This way, in the early days of my DAILY practice, I saw it every time I woke up and went to brush my teeth. It became a non negotiable (because it feels so beneficial) habit.
I also enjoy the additional unexpected mindfulness practices life offers
These include Rainbow Appreciation Time (where the MagnifiCat insists on snuggles and I focus on the sound of her purr, the feel of her fur etc – using the senses to pay extra attention to the present moment.
For those of you with (way more demanding than a cat) young children, you can make any moments with them more mindful.
Also, those moments waiting in line or (oh, how I miss London) when the Tube or train is so packed you’re standing with your nose up a stranger’s armpit and no room to even read a book.
I used to HATE such moments. While I’ll never be a fan, being able to connect with the breath and change the mindset from feeling trapped to being fully present (advanced practice – I can still SMELL stranger armpits on the Tube. Gaghhh), helps us find more peace and ease.
By keeping the focus on the breath, we can do this simple practice any time, anywhere.
What’s the point? Surely a minute a day isn’t enough
For myself and clients, students, workshop participants and now members of the Feel Better Every Day online membership programme, one of the biggest obstacles to DOING what feels good is the ridonkulous pressure we put on ourselves to somehow do it perfectly.
A minute a day is MUCH better than beating yourself up for several minutes most days about not doing the 20 minutes a day (or longer) you’d intended to do.
How did you feel afterwards?
A little more relaxed? Rested even? You’ve just had a minute of taking your awareness away from your ruminating mind (pandemic! Politics! A gazillion other thoughts that effortlessly trigger the Stress Response!)
As with everything, it’s a practice.
Obviously, the more the better but this MINUTE, as you practice, a mindful approach will help you improve your focus when it comes to your yoga practice or your walk or your swim or run or pretty much anything.
Even just once a day, you’ll begin to notice benefits.
The likelihood is that as you do this minute long practice when you see Your Daily Mindful Minute videos every day, you’ll begin to do it more in your own life.
I’m starting the videos the way I start with clients and in workshops and yoga classes – with mindfulness of the breath.
We might still have a fair bit of judgment about the way we’re breathing but you’re alive.
You’re breathing FINE.
While encouraging you to notice the natural breath, there’s also a regulatory option to help you feel better in the moment, retrain the nervous system and come back to a more calming way of being
This practice is to help you work with this normal, natural thing, just for a minute, in a way that then sends signals of calm and safety to the whole system.
Watch the Your Daily Mindful Minute videos to help you integrate this into your life
I’m sharing new Your Daily Mindful Minute videos via IGTV (and sharing to my other social media platforms) each day, Monday to Friday.
You can pick your favourites from the week ahead to revisit on Saturdays and Sundays and all are available via my social media channels
If you’re not already following them and would like to take a minute each day to drink in some of the scenes I’m recording for you (Sheep! Trees! Mountain! Stream! Ducks! Birds! And there’ll be plenty more to come), you can find me on:
What I’m sharing is incredibly simple – mini introduction to help you begin then a minute of silence where I encourage you to keep coming back to the breath, congratulating yourself anytime you notice the mind wandering – we’re humans. Our minds will, of course, wander.
The key is in bringing that awareness back to the breath and as we KEEP doing this, we cultivate the mind, with practice, rewire the brain (see the links above).
You don’t even need the videos
While I hope you’ll enjoy them (I love sharing the beauty I’m fortunate enough to be surrounded by), you can simply:
- Sit, lie down or stand comfortably
- Lengthen through the spine to a degree that feels comfortable for you
- Notice the breath
- Get a sense of whether you’re breathing from the top of the lungs, the middle of the lungs or the lower lungs
- If it feels comfortable, bring the breath down. We breathe more shallowly when stressed, physically or emotionally. By bringing the breath down, we’re signalling to the brain and whole system that we’re safe. All is well. We can relax
- Notice whether the inhalation is longer than the exhalation or if they’re evenly balanced or if the exhalation is longer
- Evenly balanced is great for in the moment balance but we (even in lockdown) (especially in lockdown?) live much of our lives in sympathetic mode, autonomic nervous system wise. This is partly stress and also excitement. While cortisol is known as a stress hormone, it also helps us get out of bed in the morning. None of this is about either or but because society is so geared towards 24/7 living and new, exciting things, it’s beneficial to balance this by choosing a CALMING breath when doing these practices. This means lengthening the exhalation a little so it’s slightly longer than in the inhale. This activates the rest/digest response and, with practice, helps retrain the nervous system
- When you feel relaxed, time half a minute, counting the complete breaths you take then double it to get your own Mindful Minute. You can then take however many complete breaths adds up to your minute without even reaching for your phone to watch one of these (or others – there are so many apps these days, you might find them helpful) videos
- As you practice, gently bring the awareness back to the breath anytime you get distracted and congratulate yourself for noticing.
Wishing you a wondrous New Year filled with good health, peace, ease, love, joy and (when safe to travel again) adventure!