Updated: Jul 21, 2020
Stress is the body's reaction to a source that demands change or adjustment. Stress is normal, but it is harmful when it is uncontrollable and excess stress causes different diseases. Thus, stress management is very important for protecting our mind-body serenity. Read more on stress and anxiety: Stress or Anxiety? Know the difference.
Man is a social being and social-distancing caused by COVID-19 has brought a situation that is unusual for us. We are trying to cope up with this "new normal", still the stress and anxiety about this pandemic are never reducing.
Last day a friend of mine asked me "what do you do during stress?" I answered that I meditate or practise mindfulness and he goes "oh, that's a textbook answer!". But the truth is we cannot control a stressful situation, but we have the power to control our mind and body. We worry about the situations that are not controllable (especially these days)- our past and the future. We cannot change the past nor we can do anything that is going to happen and these thoughts can increase our stress and anxiety. The only thing we can do is work on our present. The best way for this is by practicing Mindfulness.
Mindfulness is the quality of being completely aware of the present. It is a state of being. As the word says, we are "mindful" about the present in a non-judgemental way. It is when we criticize or evaluate any situation, stress arises. In mindfulness practise, we observe and be aware of the present by accepting it.
"Do not dwell in the past, do not dream about the future,
Concentrate the mind in the present moment."
--- Buddha 🌼
You do not have to be a yogi or a zen person to practise mindfulness. We can practice mindfulness and still lose our temper, that is normal! Studies and experiences show that mindfulness can help us to calm our minds and relax our bodies so that we can accept reality. Anybody can do mindfulness! Here are some mindfulness meditation practices for beginners.
Mindfulness for beginners
1. Mini- Mindfulness Meditation (3-5 mins)
Sit in a comfortable position and close your eyes. Take a deep breath.
Bring awareness to your thoughts.
Now bring your awareness to your breath.
Expand your awareness slowly to your body and the five senses.
Be there for how much time you want and come out of the meditation with a loooooong breath out.
2. Square Breathing Exercise (5 mins)
Breathing exercises not only affect your mind but also your body. Sit in a comfortable position and close your eyes.
We are going to practice controlled and deliberate breathing.
Bring your attention to your breath, Now
•Breathe in for 4 secs •Hold for 4 secs •Breathe out for 4 secs •Hold for 4 secs (repeat)
3. 5 senses Mindfulness Exercise (2 mins)
Notice things sensing through five senses. Do not judge but just sense it.
5 things that you can see (observe new things)
4 things you can feel
3 things you can hear
2 things you can smell
1 thing you can taste
4. Mindful Eating
Many times we eat without our consciousness. We are busy watching TV or using our phones or even talking to someone.
Mindful eating is concentrating and being aware of the process of eating. You can practice this with any food or a bite of food.
Be aware of the body when you prepare to eat.
Take the food in your hand and smell the food.
Notice how your body reacts and how your mouth feels.
After putting the food in your mouth, be aware of each taste you experience and how the mouth waters.
Listen to the sound of the food when you chew it and notice how the food is changing its form.
Now slowly swallow the food and be mindful of the process. Continue it.
You can be mindful while doing anything. You can practice mindful walking, mindful driving, mindful reading, mindful listening, mindful seeing and even mindful dancing. All these above activities help you to be aware of your present and calm yourself, saving you from the stress of unnecessary thoughts.
"Mindfulness is a way of befriending ourselves and our experience."
--- Jon Kabat-Zinn🌸
5. The Train of Thoughts Exercise
Observing your thoughts and learning how to avoid emotional attachments is necessary for calming your mind.
Sit in a comfortable position and close your eyes.
Imagine you are sitting on a railway platform and trains are passing by. These trains are your thoughts.
Observe the thoughts that appear in your mind. Do not judge or get involved. Consider it as a train on which you do not want to travel and let the thought pass.
Keep noticing the thoughts that pass like trains and you are just an observer.