Whenever the term ‘mindfulness’ is spoken about, we can’t help but imagine a yogi, sitting cross legged on a mountain top. His vibe radiates peace and is free from the world’s stress. Although, this sounds great and at heart, everyone wants the same kind of peace, truth be told none of us has the kind of time needed to attain Nirvana. Our lives are fast moving and on most occasion we’re caught juggling work and family responsibilities. So does this mean peace will continue to elude us? We have some good news for you. We’ve compiled together a few easy exercises that you can practice to attain a peaceful state of mind.
Note: These exercises need to be followed for 21 days straight. No gaps. Research proves that it takes 21 days to develop a new habit.
- Just Breathe
Choose a time as per your convenience and set aside 5 minutes. Close your eyes and bring your focus on your breath. Now breathe in to the count of four, hold your breath to the count of seven and slowly exhale through your mouth to count of eight. Repeat this for about five minutes. While breathing in, imagine that you are inhaling positivity and abundance and while exhaling feel all your stress and worries leaving your body. It’s okay for your mind to wander. But every time you notice it wandering, bring it back and focus on your breath. The beauty of this exercise is that it can be done anywhere, and you’ll notice its calming effects instantly. You can even try this in between your meetings at work. Five minutes is all you need.
Research has proved that breathing exercises like these can have immediate effects by altering the pH of the blood, or changing blood pressure.
Esther Sternberg, physician, author and researcher at the National Institute of Mental Health says, “Breathing exercises can be used as a method to train the body’s reaction to stressful situations and dampen the production of harmful stress hormones.”
- Sound Healing
The practice of using sound for mental and physical well-being is not new. Mantra recitation and chanting has been a part of Hinduism since the dawn of time. Sound has the power to change your mood and the dynamics of your body and mind. The soundtrack played at the gym suddenly makes you feel energetic and pumped up, while the one at yoga class is soothing and calms your senses. Whether we notice it or not, sound has a powerful effect on the body and mind. Have you ever felt irritated with a sound of a hammer or a water tap left unturned? That is because, like any other thing, there are sounds that have a positive effect and there are sounds that don’t. Ever wondered why vehicles have horns, why ambulances and police vans have sirens? The frequency of those sounds are meant to trigger a panic response in us.
So how can we use sound to reduce stress? We’re lucky that we live in the age of YouTube where we have access to infinite options for this purpose. Choose a sound healing track of your choice, make sure it isn’t a meditative one, since those are designed to calm your senses to the point that you feel drowsy. You can play this music in your car on the way to work or even at your office or home.
A research conducted by scientists at the Michigan State University, disclosed that after about 15 minutes of listening to music they themselves preferred, participants exhibited up to 25% lower levels of cortisol, a stress hormone that can depress the immune system when produced in excess.
- The Lap of Nature
This practice involves walking barefoot on grass every day for a few minutes. Doing so allows you to connect with mother Earth’s natural energy. Our planet is nothing but energy and has infinite magnetic fields. When you walk barefoot on grass, you connect directly with the magnetic field which has a wonderful effect on your own electrical and magnetic field. This exchange of energies helps your body get rid of negativity by neutralizing and cleansing your magnetic field. You do not have to go for a long stroll for this purpose, even doing this for five minutes during your lunch break at a park near your office would do the trick.
A study published in the Journal of Environmental and Public Health says that we draw electrons that can improve health. This helps in reducing body pain, especially chronic aches. Another study states that this activity can change the electrical activity in the brain, which was observed through an electroencephalogram. More studies say walking barefoot on grass can provide health benefits, such as a stronger immune system, heart rate regulation and improved glucose control.
- Back to School
As children, we all focus on our hobbies. Some of us liked painting while others enjoyed dancing or sports. After finishing our homework, we dedicatedly spent time on our hobbies. This, however, takes a back seat once we grow up. With a stressful schedule and University and then long hours at work, we forget about the things we used to enjoy at one point in our life. Of course, we spend time updating our skill sets and learning new things, but most of the time these are things that are work related and help us excel in our field. A key to mindfulness is to get in touch with our inner child. Pick a hobby of your choice and spend time on it. This needn’t be done every day. If playing cricket is your hobby then you can dedicate an on Sunday morning to it. If you love dancing then you can attend a dance class a few times week.
A research that ran in Harvard Business Review, shows that people who make room for their hobbies and the things they care about, report being satisfied and fulfilled.
Gratitude is one of the most powerful feelings in the Universe. While in our daily lives we have a number of things we aren’t happy about but there are also things that are going perfectly well. Very often we chose to complain about the negatives and ignore the positives. And as the universal law suggests, what we focus on, grows. Here’s a simple exercise. It needs to be done either in the morning before you start your day or at night before going to bed. Write down three things that you are grateful for. It could be your family, friends, or something as simple as someone giving you a cup of coffee. Every day you have to write new things. Trust us, there’ll be plenty. Since what you focus on grows, watch how your life magically unfolds once you start this exercise.
After conducting multiple studies, Robert A. Emmons, PhD. and a leading gratitude researcher, disclosed that gratitude effectively reduces depression and increases happiness. It immensely reduces a multitude of toxic emotions, ranging from resentment and envy to regret and frustration.