The ‘meditation bus’ currently doing the rounds in London is unlikely to cut it for most Londoners. We were stressed out even before the travel chaos made our commutes a misery. But Belinda Freeman, from the Soho Medical Centre, believes we would all benefit from hitting the pause button daily.
Life in London is relentless. Even when the transport system works, we are stressed. We pack our lives with back-to-back meetings, appointments, social commitments and arduous exercise regimes and this has taken a toll on our sense of wellbeing. Young Londoners in particular are struggling: A recent survey* by The Prince’s Trust found the lowest levels of happiness amongst 16 to 25 year olds since the study was launched in 2009.
Belinda Freeman, a mindfulness coach at Third Space, believes our constant ‘busyness’ blocks out creativity and makes us unhappy. Her advice? Just pause and take in the present moment.
She adds: “This gives us perspective, focus and clarity. It enables us to think about which of our habits are helpful. You can train your brain to respond wisely to stressful situations instead of always developing resilience.”
Here she lists five ways to defeat seasonal mood changes using simple mindfulness techniques:
1. Start your day with a drink: Really savour that first cup of coffee, tea or smoothie. Take your mind off your to-do list and breathe, let go of tension and connect with the present nourishing experience. Drink slowly and notice the taste, the sounds in the room, the aroma, texture, warmth or coolness.
2. Pause at the door: Workday mornings can be pretty hectic. Start you day with positive intention. As you approach the door, check in with yourself. Bring your mind to its senses. Pause, breathe out and relax. Let go of any assumptions and perceptions. Let the door handle be your cue. It’s a natural place to pause for a moment. Let go of old, negative thinking patterns. Begin the day with curiosity, kindness, non-judgment and a willingness to have a go.
3. Let go of the blues: Before focusing on all the great things you are going to do for yourself this week. List the things you can be grateful for in your life.
4. Embrace the power lunch: It is really important to set aside time in the day to nourish your body. Go out, sit in the park or in a cafe. Meet a friend or business colleague. You will return to your desk feeling energised and focused.
5. Walk off stress: The day is well underway when you notice that a familiar tightness in your neck and shoulders has returned, or you feel your heart racing as your mind fills with judgments, worries, panic, and planning. This is a great time to do what athletes do and walk it off. As you begin to walk, put away your phone and just walk. Notice your feet touching the floor, how the air feels against your skin, the sounds. Be generous with your breathing, let go of judgments and any negative thoughts.
Mindfulness training doesn’t have to be difficult. It’s all about making a habit of pausing.
*Source: The Prince’s Trust 2017 Macquarie Youth Index, published 9/01/2017