Meditation, Mental health, Mindfulness

How do I start to practice #mindfulness and #meditation?

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So what is meditation?

In short, it works by focusing the mind on a thought, item or activity. Through concentration, a mentally clear and emotionally calm state can be reached. If you have a chronic health condition like fibromyalgia it’s worth trying.

I found meditation to really help and would suggest having a look at Insight Timer and download the app. You can access free a range of guided and unguided meditations on different themes for beginners to more advanced.

Courses, live meditation sessions, music, sleep and talks are also accessible but some are only available for payment. 

One of the best beginners courses to try is ‘Learn how to meditate in seven days’ by Sarah Blondin

For Fibromyalgia sufferers try ‘Methods for living with pain and illness’ by Vidyamala Burch

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is another form of meditation which is popular at the moment.  It is about focusing the mind in the present, rather than letting the mind jump from random thought to thought.  You may find this approach easier to work with.  The NHS website has some more information about this technique.

Why practice mindfulness?

Clinical researchers have carried out a number of tests which have shown that mindfulness can improve your overall health and wellbeing in these ways:

  • lower stress levels
  • lower depression
  • improve the quality of sleep
  • reduce anxiety
  • encourage positive thinking
  • alter the way the mind reacts to difficult situations
  • improve decision making

How can mindfulness be described?

In a nutshell, it’s focusing our attention purely on the present moment. Doing this without letting the mind drift back to past memories or thinking about future events. Mindfulness is embracing the present with acceptance, without judgment.

The monkey mind🐒

There are so many distractions for us to focus our mind on. To illustrate the monkey mind, try this exercise for a couple of minutes.

Focus your mind on your breathing.  Think about where you can feel movement in your chest from your breathing.  Concentrate on this area, for a few minutes. You will notice your thoughts stray, thinking about numerous things other than the breath.

These thoughts are from past or future experiences. The mind is rarely focused on the present. It jumps from one subject to another, like a monkey playing. This practice is called the monkey mind.

How do I start to practice mindfulness?

Start by focusing on your senses when you carry out your everyday routine. By thinking about the feel, touch, smell and the sound of everything you are experiencing.

If you carry out a task such as washing the dishes, think about the heat of the water, the texture and feel of the plates, the scent of washing up liquid and the sound of water filling up the bowl.

If you have a regular daily routine build some time into it every day to practice mindfulness.

You could try changing your daily activities. For example if you regularly go for a walk and always walk the same way; try changing the route to one your not as familiar with. Or try a completely new walk.

By changing your routine to something different or new it will get your mind to focus on a familiar task in a different or new way.

Desert Island Discs, Listening to music, Mental health, Music, Podcast

#Music for #Mental health

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I looked at ways to use music to improve mental health, last week with Listening to music 🎶 .

Have you had a chance to try out some of the suggestions?

“New music “

I’ve tried listening to new tracks by similar artists I usually listen to and found some good music. 

An interesting way of finding new music tracks is by listening to radio programmes. 

My favourite is Desert Island Discs broadcast on BBC radio 4. It introduces different celebrities each week who select their favourite tracks and talk about why they selected them. It’s fascinating to hear about their life and the importance of the music they share. At the end of the program they are ‘cast away’ on a desert island with their eight selected tracks a book and luxury item.

Creating a playlist 

Selecting music tracks to create a personal playlist ensures you can always find music to lift your mood when you’re feeling low. Most free music apps have the facility to access your favourite tracks. I’ve created several playlists using genres to group the music.  My favourite is a classical selection. It does help to improve my concentration when I’m working on something. I’ve also created dance, rock and soul playlists. 

Other genres that might be worth investigating include;

chart, radio, mood, wellness, chill, sleep and focus.

Music Podcasts

A podcast can be really helpful if you miss a program or show. They cover a huge range of music. Some great podcasts to check out include David Walliams’ Marvellous Musical podcast, which gives an introduction to classical music in a fun way, Popmaster Quiz with Ken Bruce, tests your music knowledge and the Worlds Best Rock Albums, reviews popular classic rock albums. If you’ve come across any worth checking out, let me know.

Blog, Listening to music, Mental health, Music

Listening to music 🎶

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Can help your #mental health by stimulating your brain. 

This week I’m exploring the benefits of regularly listening to music and related health advantages in more detail…

We are all familiar with listening to music that we enjoy to help us relax.

But music also has the ability to reach out to you in other ways.

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Research suggests that you can keep your brain cells young by regularly listening to music. 

It could be singing, playing or interacting with music.  

Some of the benefits include sharper memory, better mood and mental awareness.
Improved quality of sleep, lower blood pressure, anxiety levels and reduced pain perception.

Stretching our memory

The type of music we listen to can trigger our memory and transport us back to a moment in time we had forgotten about. Perhaps travelling along in a car we once had listening to the radio. Or a particular song may help you recall a past event.

Exploring music choices 

Discovering a new group or a new album from an artist your already familiar with can widen your knowledge. So many of us like to listen to the same music over again. Listening to unfamiliar tracks encourages the brain to work a bit harder and find even more enjoyable tracks.  

I listen to the radio quite a bit and settle on a particular genre but find I’m constantly introduced to a variety of old and new music.

Take up a new hobby 

Recent research has found that adults that start to learn a instrument; like the guitar, can find their problem solving skills and memory improve.  Over time their attention span and mood improves. This will help their long term mental health.

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