There's more to mindfulness than meditation. It's the practice of focusing your attention in the present moment and although it's accessible to everyone, forgetting about our busy diaries and to-do lists can be more difficult than it sounds.
However, there are a few easy ways to incorporate this positive way of thinking into our daily routines. And it can do wonders for our wellbeing, too.
"The prolonged stress that we all find ourselves subjected to in our daily lives is damaging to the mind and body," Nahid de Belgeonne, the Director and Founder of Good Vibes Fitness, told us. "The stress response impacts the immune system, increases blood pressure, cholesterol and can lead to hypertension, strokes and coronary heart disease. Mindfulness can help combat this, as it creates the 'relaxation response', which is the opposite of the stress reactions.
Here are Nahid's top five mindfulness tips:
1. Close your eyes
Angry email hits your inbox? As soon as you close your eyes your neural oscillations will slow down from beta brainwaves (alert and active) to Alpha brain waves which will start to switch on the parasympathetic nervous system. This deals with lowering the heart rate and other rest and digest responses.
Feeling overwhelmed? Take a deep breath and allow your exhale to become longer than your inhale. Aim for a 1:2 ratio. Why? Rapid breathing activates the nervous system and slow and smooth breathing calms the nervous system.
3. Take a break
Creative juices not flowing? Take a 20 minute break from intense work every hour and a half to allow throughout the day. Many of the mind and body systems are thought to recalibrate in this basic rest-activity cycle known as the Ultradian rhythm, which is 90 minutes of work followed by 20 minutes of rest.
4. Word meditation
When under stress, people often breathe in a shallow manner, not using full lung capacity. To breathe fully, sit up on your sit bones and place your hands on your belly, directly above your belly button.
Let the fingertips of both hands touch lightly. Exhale fully through your mouth. Breathe in deeply through your nose and into your belly, so that your fingertips spread an inch apart. Let your belly fill with air. Exhale slowly through your nose. Match the length of the inhale with the length of the exhale. On every Inhale think of the word 'let' and exhale think of the word 'go' – repeat 10 times.
5. Be in the present
Too much on your to-do list? Stop and close your eyes and ask yourself a few questions. How am I feeling right now? How does my body feel right now? What am I doing right now? What am I thinking right now? What do I really need at this moment? How would I like the next moment to be? Remember that change happens in the now!
This April, Aveda is celebrating Earth Month 2015 - raising money and awareness for the 768 million people around the world that still cannot access clean water. The brand will be hosting #ThoughtfulThursday weekly yoga sessions at the Aveda Lifestyle Salon and Spa, Covent Garden, 7:45 AM every Thursday from 2nd – 30th April. Find out more about how to get involved in Earth Month here.
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