There are many many books and apps out there now about mindfulness, and how it can change your life. It's fantastic to see that such a helpful tool is becoming so popular, but buying a book, or downloading an app, will not make the change happen.
What will make the change happen, is to do a Mindfulness practice daily. If you have an app on your phone use it. If you have found a practice you like, do it.
I know from my own experience that buying the book and reading it can make me feel better about myself for a short while—I like the idea of myself practicing a new skill, I like the feeling of trying one or two exercises from the book and thinking about how good I will feel if I do this all the time. But I know all too well that unless I turn these thoughts into action, nothing will change.
If mindfulness is not a part of daily life, you or I won't come to know the benefits of it.
Here is a basic grounding practice that brings you out of your thoughts and into the present. I suggest you do it in the morning to set your compass for the day to come.
Challenge yourself to do this very simple (and free!) practice every morning for the week to come, and see how it makes a difference in your day.
"Knowledge is of no value unless you put it into practice." - Anton Chekhov
Instructions for "Label Mental Activity":
What this exercise does is create a little space between you and your thoughts. The act of labelling your thoughts takes the impact out of them, and makes it easier to let them pass by without getting caught up in them.
"Most people don't realize that the mind constantly chatters. And yet, that chatter winds up being the force that drives us much of the day in terms of what we do, what we react to, and how we feel." - Jon Kabat-Zinn
Instructions for "An Exercise in Self-Love":
We are our own harshest critics, and we get away with it because other people can't hear our thoughts and intervene when we are being mean to ourselves. Can you imagine if you heard your best friend speak to themselves as you speak to yourself sometimes? You would step in immediately to reassure them and offer loving words, so here's an opportunity to do that for yourself.
It might feel weird in the beginning, but why should it? We all deserve love, even when we have messed up, in fact, isn't that when we need love the most?
(Don't rush over the step of making the feeling of love really big, you want to come from a genuine feeling of love when you talk to yourself, it will give your words a real depth.)
"Well-ordered self-love is right and natural." - Thomas Aquinas
Instructions for "One Minute Check-in":
This is a wonderful practice to do randomly throughout the day. It's an opportunity to return the body and mind to calm and peace, so stress doesn't get to build up through the day. It makes a better day for you, and for those around you.
"If we are peaceful, if we are happy, we can smile, and everyone in our family, our entire society, will benefit from our peace." - Thich Nhat Hanh
Instructions for "Fortune Telling?":
• Check in with your thoughts whenever you're about to do something this week.
• Notice the stories you might have written about the event before it has even happened. For example:
• Remember that in fact, you don't know what will happen, and there's no point making up scary stories about it.
• Each time your mind strays into fortune-telling, remind yourself to stick to fact.
Telling yourself horror stories about the future can make you anxious, miserable, and fearful in the present. It also closes you down to the possibilities of what might happen, as you are too anxious or fearful to notice events that are not consistent with your expectations. Resist the temptation to think you know the future, and a whole new one may open up to you. :)
“Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won't come in.”
The Weekly Minute is a blog I write each week with the aim of providing proven tools to help promote positive mental health.
The collection of short, practical mindfulness and therapy tools for self-reflection and self-improvement, can equip people to take their mental well-being into their own hands, and improve their quality of life.
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