Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Guest Post | Mindfulness for Beginners | #IrishBlogCollab

This week's #IrishBlogCollab post is a guest post on another blog within the group. I was paired up with Aoife.  She was kind enough to share her tips on mindfulness, have a read and check out her blog Aoife in Wonderland.

When I was in secondary school, I remember being brought into what was called 'the religion room' – a room with natural light, a red carpet and the odd chair or two sitting around. Occasionally our teacher would bring us in, get us to sit in a circle with our eyes closed, and put on some music full of nature sounds, and a guided meditation. Some used to lie on the floor, and although it didn't always work (with such a large class) there was something relaxing about it, and afterwards, we'd all feel sleepy. Having a cd telling you to breathe was slightly odd, and my mind always wandered off. I didn't give it much thought, meditation didn't interest me. It was only after I finished up in school, that I slowly developed an interest in mindfulness – a form of meditation that didn't require a dark room and stillness – but quite the opposite. I downloaded some apps, some guided meditations from youtube – and set out on a little discovery. Now that I've been practicing mindfulness more and more, I'm finding I can concentrate better, that I'm more aware of my surroundings, myself, and thoughts. Admittedly, I found mindfulness difficult at first. I'm usually quite busy, so I don't always feel like I have time to 'sit still and breathe' – even though subconsciously, it's what we all do. I felt a bit silly trying it at first, I didn't have the patience, I couldn't concentrate on the task at hand, my mind kept wandering – and despite reading up on the research into the benefits of mindfulness, I was convinced that it wasn't going to work for me, but the more I practice it, the easier it's becoming. I'm learning to apply it to different situations, and I'd definitely recommend giving it a go! Here's a little guide to help you get started.

What is it?
It's a form of meditation that teaches you to focus on the present moment, and on your breathing – it teaches you to be aware of yourself, actions and surroundings.

How do I start off?
Unlike regular (or, stereotypical) meditation, mindfulness doesn't require you to sit still in a quiet room with your legs crossed on the floor. The best way to begin practicing mindfulness is to incorporate it into your regular daily routine, by being aware of what you're doing and why you're doing it you can eventually learn to stay focused on the present moment, meaning your thought process becomes more organized. If you're washing the dishes – pay attention to the water, what your hands are doing, if you're out for a walk – pay attention to the trees, nature around you, and how your body reacts to new environments. It might sound funny, but it gets easier in time, I didn't find the benefits straight away but after time they slowly became more visible.

Is there anything I can use to help?
I'd recommend downloading a mindfulness app – I've tried a few but my favorite has been 'Head Space' – it's free from the iTunes store. It gives you a little challenge of '10 minutes for 10 days' and eases you in to the whole idea of being more mindful throughout the day, and gives you tips on getting started in the form of cute little animations, it also tracks your progress. There are mindfulness guides on youtube but I think they're a little bit distracting, and some run for too long, but you might find that they work for you. I prefer something short so I don't get too distracted.

When is the best time to be more mindful?
It varies for everyone, realistically there's no right or wrong time but I like to listen to my app when I'm getting ready for college – it's a nice way to perk up and start the day off on a positive note. Alternatively, I listen to it for a few minutes on the bus on my daily commute – either in the mornings or evenings after a stressful day. It's good to clear your head! - now that I'm getting used to practicing mindfulness I'm going to apply what I've learned when sitting my upcoming Summer exams in College – you can do it whenever you need to unwind, or take a break – it can also get your sleeping pattern back on track.

What next?
That's pretty much it – it's as easy as focusing on yourself and your breathing, overtime, it gets easier. Take a little time out each day to try it, you never know, you might find that it works for you!

Have you tried mindfulness before? Are you going to try it out? Let us know in the comments below!

Marie - The Beaut Mum


  1. Love the post Aoife, good job! I'm working on one about mindfulness at the minute too. Unfortunately, my school weren't into anything like that, so I'm definitely a newcomer when it comes to meditation! xx