By Ivana Separovic
One of the biggest misconceptions about practising mindfulness is that it requires sitting on a cushion with legs crossed for two hours. But what if I told you that you can meditate anytime and anywhere? Would you give it a try?
In this article, I am going to share three quick mindful practices that help me maintain my Zen whenever I need it. I swear by these practices and do them every day. Honestly, I’m not sure where I would be without them! What I do know is that they keep me stress-free and happy. And isn’t that what we all want? In the best case scenario, try all of them with me now.
1. Don’t underestimate the power of breathing. Science has proven that breathing exercises help reduce stress and anxiety, lower blood pressure, improve sleep, enhance heart health, and support the immune system… and more. Deep breaths activate the parasympathetic system of the brain, releasing happiness hormones like endorphins and serotonin.
Don’t underestimate the power of breathing.
My favourite breathing exercise:
At any time of the day, especially when you need to refocus and ground yourself, shift your attention to your nostrils. Feel the cool air entering them and notice how it travels through your nose to fill up your lungs. Feel your lungs expanding and providing oxygen to your body. Try to visualise or “feel” the oxygen spreading throughout your body, reaching every corner and every cell.
2. Grounding refers to a therapeutic technique that helps us reconnect with Mother Earth-making direct contact with the earth’s surface by walking barefoot on soil, grass, rocks, and more. However, it also means withdrawing our attention from our thoughts and emotions and bringing ourselves back to the present moment. Grounding techniques can have an incredible calming effect on the mind, instantly changing the way we feel.
My favourite grounding exercise:
Focus on your feet and how they’re connected to the ground. Tune into the force of gravity grounding you, like the steady roots of a tree firmly planted in the earth. As you breathe in, imagine that you’re inhaling from beneath the surface and through the entirety of your feet. It could be from the earth’s core or just below the ground-use whatever imagery works best for you. Exhale naturally.
As you breathe in, imagine that you’re inhaling from beneath the surface and through the entirety of your feet.
3. To the human brain, what we imagine and what we experience are virtually the same. That’s why we feel scared when dreaming of a giant cookie chasing us or why we laugh at a memory from a hilarious event a decade ago. I adore my daughter’s imagination and often try to view the world through her eyes. Sometimes I wish I could borrow it, just for a day!
My favourite creative exercise:
Close your eyes for this exercise. Use your hands to mentally draw something-I personally find trees very calming. Picture a crown of long branches encircling your head, perhaps with a tiny bird perched on it. Extend the trunk along your legs and visualise roots extending beneath your feet. You don’t have to contort like a 90-year-old yogi; the key is to use your imagination to sketch the lines. Feel free to get as creative as you’d like; the example I provided is merely a suggestion.
PS: When your thoughts intrude, which they likely will, approach them as you would an irrational roommate. Acknowledge their presence, refrain from reacting, and return your focus to what you want to concentrate on.
Ivana (Mindful Original)
Ivana Separovic is a Holistic Therapist and Nutritionist. She has spent years practising mindfulness, which has helped her to navigate the ups and downs of motherhood. Visit the Mindful Original website to find out more and join their communities on Facebook and Instagram.