In the UK, as Lockdown 3.0 stretches in front of us, there has never been a better time to use the tools of mindfulness and meditation to help our emotional wellbeing. Mindfulness is essentially meditation and can involve paying attention to thoughts, sounds, sensations of breathing or parts of the body, to keep your mind in the here and now.
Many of us are aware that the roots of meditation and mindfulness are grounded in the theories of Buddhism, that stretch back over 2500 years. This ancient practice became popularised in the West by way of a stress-reducing programme developed in the 1970s, by Dr Jon Kabat-Zinn. His programme was based on Buddhist meditation called Vipassana. The word Vipassana itself, on further investigation, can translate as “clear awareness or insight”. Kabat-Zinn’s programme to enhance wellbeing has been supported by thousands of scientific studies showing its effectiveness. Based on this, starting to use mindfulness, or reintroducing it as a regular practice in January 2021, could have a huge benefit on our ability to cope with the ever-changing landscape we are facing, as well as manage feelings of overwhelm and social isolation.
The use of water imagery in meditation is well established as it can represent infinite flow. A picture in your mind of the waves lapping onto a beach or a waterfall in a forest glade can prove to be very centring during mindfulness. As can the sound of water in the background during your practice – rainfall, the sound of a river, or even a storm can provide a backdrop to relaxation.
However, using water physically can also help with your practice. I know from personal experience just getting round to actually “doing” the mindful meditation can feel like a job in itself. So combining it in our everyday experiences can be a way to open the gateway to our practice.
Take 2 minutes to stop whatever it is you are doing and drink from a glass of water. Really feel the weight of the glass in your hand, the coldness of the water. Put it to your lips and notice the sensations of the water on your lips and tongue. Pay attention to the feeling of the water sliding down your throat. Small activities like this that ground us and calm us down, are also really nice to share with our children, teens or even toddlers.
When you are in the shower again, stop to think about how it really feels. The water drumming on your scalp, the feel of the heat of the water on your skin. The smell of the shampoo or shower gel. Pay attention to the swirl of water as it drains down the plughole. During these few moments try hard to keep your attention on what you are doing in the here and now. Don’t think about the future, the next deadline, the new school home learning assignment. Take that moment just for you.
I am not in any way trained to advise or perform mindfulness; the above information is from my own experience. There is a wealth of YouTube videos available to introduce you to mindfulness. If you are interested in doing classes with a professional via Zoom for you or your children during this difficult time visit www.chatterminds.com for more information.