Hot off the press – here is my new blog where I aim to give you some practical ways to use mindfulness and meditation to feel calmer, happier, more fulfilled and effective, and all those other benefits you have sought out mindfulness for!
A question I am often asked is how to wind down after a stressful day? People often come home from work or a big event feeling wound up, their mind racing, body on edge, but feeling exhausted at the same time. The events of the day are whirling around in their mind, they can’t relax and sleep can be hard to come by.
And in this state, if you sit down to meditate it can be a frustrating experience because your mind is racing and body just wants to jump up and do something.
So here are my suggestions for letting go, using mindfulness to help you wind down and de-stress after a big day.
1. Touch the earth
Go outside to your garden, or walk to the nearest park. Sit on the ground and feel the earth beneath you – touch the grass, stones, soil. Lie down if you want and let your body rest on the earth. Notice the plants, trees, flowers around you. Breathe in their scent, touch them with your hands, notice their colours.
2. Ten long breaths
In the garden (or wherever you are) take 10 long slow breaths. Feel the air fill your lungs, the pause, then all the air exhaling, warm air coming out your nostrils. Do these breaths through your nose – research shows that breathing through the nose helps calm the nervous system much more than breathing through the mouth. Feel that you are letting go of the day’s tensions on each out breath. (By the way, 10 breaths means 10 cycles of in-and-out.)
3. Do some mindful walking
Preferably in the garden or park, do some slow mindful walking meditation. If the mind-body is wound up then walking meditation can give you a physical focus. You could start out walking quite fast, then slow down the pace as you settle into it. Try to eventually slow down the pace to the point you are really doing walking meditation (that is, a super-slow walk where you feel the soles of the feet move over the ground with each step).
4. Now try sitting meditation
Now you might like to do some sitting practice. I really think this is crucial before going to bed in the evening – it allows your mind and body to process and let go of the events of the day. Sit down with no expectation of what sort of meditation it will be. Open to the possibility that there will be lots of thoughts and the day’s events will come up. Embrace this if it happens – it means your mind is letting these events go rather than hanging onto them all night in your sleep!
Let me know how you go – I’d love to hear your feedback. And if there’s a mindfulness meditation question you’d like an answer to, please email me and I’ll try and write a future blog post on that!