How mindfulness makes you calm, clear and focused

Ready to silence your mind, untangle your nerves, and really connect with your world? Here's how.

Mindfulness is the new black. It is an effective mental technique, borrowed from the 2000-year-old Buddhist contemplative practice and adapted to suit non-religious contexts, including board rooms, corporations, hospitals, schools and sports teams.

As a doctor trained in psychiatry and a meditation teacher, discovering the science supporting the benefits of mindfulness meditation really motivated my own practice. The research is compelling. We now know that mindfulness meditation, when practised regularly, can truly transform your brain and your health for the better.

Mindfulness is a practice which supports the capacity to stay focused on what you are doing as you are doing it, a powerful antidote to the distractible nature of the mind and the information-overload in our digital world. When practised regularly, it can bring more calm and effectiveness into everyday life, reducing stress and enhancing mental capacity.

It is initially practised through meditation, but can also be applied to daily activities such as eating, walking or working. Mindfulness is the simple, yet challenging discipline of noticing what you are doing when you are doing it and becoming master, rather than slave, to the impulses of your mind.

5 ways to practise mindfulness

1. Tune in to the breath

It may sound like an irritating cliche, but there is scientific rationale for this advice. The breath is not only a powerful indicator of ones state of mind but also a helpful modulator.

During a busy day, take a few moments to consciously tune in to the breath. Feel three breaths move in and out of the body. Then slow down the exhalation which helps to trigger the relaxation response. Extending the breath in this way sends a message to the parasympathetic nervous system (the system that opposes the stress response) to calm down the body which helps you think more clearly and feel more relaxed.

2.Use your surroundings as a circuit breaker

Take moments in the day to disconnect from the flurry of to do lists and direct your attention externally by tuning in to your senses. Listen to the sounds in the room, feel your body in space, see the space you are in, notice the temperature and smells. By tuning in to your senses, just for a few moments, you give your mind a micro break from the stress of thinking.

3. Use technology with awareness

Sitting at a computer all day? Bring awareness to your posture and breath. It has been noted that email apnea, the temporary suspension of breathing while doing email, means we are inadvertently creating stress in the body. When we breathe irregularly, the body becomes acidic through retention of excess carbon dioxide. This acidity may contribute to stress related diseases. Check in with your body and breath whilst working at the computer to ensure you are getting sufficient oxygen. 

4. Simplify your to do list

Bring attention to the top three priorities of your day. Break your work time into smaller blocks for higher levels of efficiency, and take short breaks between blocks.

5. Use your lunch as a mindful practice

Rather than eating whilst working on the computer, or missing out on lunch altogether, use your lunch as a way of practicing mindfulness. This means, noticing you are eating as you are eating, intentionally tasting your food, and bringing awareness to the act of chewing. This will give your mind an opportunity to rest from the whirlwind of the day, allowing space for mind and body rejuvenation. 

Find out more about Mindful in May at mindfulinmay.org 

 

Recommended reading - The power of yoga

Lifestyle

40 days of yoga

Medibank member Liz shares her experience two weeks into a 40-day yoga challenge.

Read more
Community

Get fit and flexible with hot yoga

Benefits to your body and mind that the listed types of hot yoga offers you.

Read more
Health Check

7 minute yoga routine

Clear your mind, soothe your soul and revitalise your body with a simple daily yoga practice.

Read more
Community

Wintertime yoga

Bring flowing movement indoors during the cooler months and start a home yoga practice.

Read more
Lifestyle

Yoga for strong bones

Get balanced – research suggests yoga can help to prevent, slow and even reverse osteoporosis.

Read more
Lifestyle

The benefits of yin yoga

Get grounded and nourish your body with the gentle, deep practice of yin yoga.

Read more
Experts

The power of Yin yoga

How the practice of Yin yoga can revitalise our lives through inner stillness and sensory awareness

Read more
Lifestyle

Yoga for runners

Enrich your running training with restorative yoga positions before and after your workout.

Read more
Lifestyle

Which style of yoga should you try?

Vinyasa, Ashtanga, Iyengar – confused? We untangle some of the most popular types of yoga

Read more
Community

What do you love about yoga?

We asked what yoga does for our community members - we were inspired by what we heard.

Read more
Travel

The 10 best travel destinations for yoga lovers

Rejuvenating travel destinations, perfect for practising your warrior pose.

Read more
In Brief

Yoga for heart health

Adverse to aerobics? A Harvard University study suggests Yoga may have the same cardiovascular perks

Read more
Community

Letting go with aerial yoga

The things you learn while hanging from a soft, silk hammock in the air.

Read more
Community

How yoga can change your life

Corrine has cleared up her skin, lost weight, toned up and improved her mental health with yoga.

Read more

For full functionality of this site it is necessary to enable JavaScript. Here are instructions on how to enable JavaScript in your web browser.