Mindfulness is like a workout for brain health.
Although there are many ways we can practice mindfulness, it is fundamentally focused attention. Such focused attention can change your brain! Among some of the changes are: a significant increase in the density of the hippocampus, a brain region important for learning and memory; increases in other neural structures associated with self-awareness, compassion and introspection; and a reduction in the density of the amygdala – the part of the brain that initiates anxiety and stress responses. Research is finding more ways that mindfulness can improve our lives, including: improving sleep; reducing stress, depression and anxiety; lowering blood pressure; lowering pain; and an ability to become more attuned or connected with others.
1. Sit in a comfortable position where you are not going to be disturbed.
2. Close your eyes and focus on your breath. Breath in and out. Breath in to the count of 4, hold the breath for a second and then release to the count of 6.
3. Slowly shift your attention to your feet, feel what they are touching. Can you sense the shoes on your feet, any tightness, the feeling of the socks you're wearing, any tightness or tinging. Your mind will wander, the goal is to keep redirecting to the present moment.
4. Now can you gently focus your attention to your ankles. Can you notice how your ankles are feeling? Are they swollen, tight, or can you breath into them and release the energy so they can allow your feet to dangle.
Let the air surrounding you touch your body. Notice how each ankle holds each let and foot differently and similarly.
5. As you go up your legs, towards your lower body and then upwards towards you upper body, breath a deep, nourishing breath. Allow the breath and energy to slowly climb up your upper body, arms, up your shoulder and towards your neck and head. Pay attention to an tension or sensation within the body, pressure from the inside or outside, checking with your heartbeat, your breath, your chest moving up and down and your legs and how your body is settled in the chair.
Notice what it's like to sense your internal perception of the present moment.
6. As you scan your body parts, each one at a time, take a step back and allow your attention to notice your entire body. What is it like to fill up the energy of the room with all of yourself.
7. Gently bring your mind back to your breath, feel your feet steadying to the ground beneath and take three long deep breaths as you bring your awareness back to the room.