Research studies by the University of Oxford’s Mindfulness Centre show that mindful practice can help us live more fully and with a greater sense of perspective. There are many health benefits of practising mindfulness, including reducing and recovering from stress and depression, building emotional resilience so you can better cope with life’s ups and downs, better relationship and communication skills and an improvement in your general wellbeing.
Mindfulness as a practice is very simple to start including in your everyday life – there’s no need for equipment or space. It’s about concentrating on what you’re doing in the moment and not letting your mind race around.
“My daily practice begins with some mindful breathing before getting out of bed, which helps to shake off any negativity and sets the day off on a positive tone. I take a daily walk with my dog, Nellie – being out in nature can reduce our stress levels by 60% and it is a great way to clear the mind and connect with something bigger than ourselves.”Tricia Wilkie
Being present in the moment – expert tips
To get present in a moment, Maidenhead mindfulness expert and trainer Tricia Wilkie has a quick and easy ‘one-to-five’ exercise. “Stop where you are and count five things you can see, four things you can hear, three you can feel, two you can smell and one you can taste. By concentrating on what’s happening in this present moment, you give yourself a moment of calm and appreciation.”
Focusing on your breath can also be a good reset. Steady yourself, gather your thoughts and feelings and take ten deep breaths in and out.
Tricia says: “According to a Harvard study of over 2,000 people worldwide, we are estimated to spend 46.9% of our waking hours in a distracted state of mind rather than focusing on whatever we are doing. When we are not fully present, not only do we miss out on moments of joy, but we may find our behaviour is driven by our emotions rather than being in control ourselves. To experience negative thoughts and feelings is a part of being human but learning how to manage them so they do not take control of your day can be a really useful skill to have.”
About her own passion for mindfulness, Tricia says: “I personally discovered mindfulness when looking for ways to overcome my own high anxiety and frequent panic attacks that had started to get in the way of my daily life. I am delighted to say I have not had a panic attack in years since practising mindfulness. During the pandemic, I became aware of the old familiar panicky feelings beginning to rise again but by practising the mindfulness techniques, those fearful feelings soon dissolved back into inner peace and calm. In recent years, mindfulness has helped me to manage periods of depression. With daily mindfulness practice, more awareness of my triggers and symptoms and a knowledge of what helps me, I am never that unwell for very long.
“My daily practice begins with some mindful breathing before getting out of bed, which helps to shake off any negativity and sets the day off on a positive tone. I take a daily walk with my dog, Nellie – being out in nature can reduce our stress levels by 60% and it is a great way to clear the mind and connect with something bigger than ourselves. When mindfully walking, I do not listen to any podcasts or look at my phone, but instead tune into my senses to stay fully connected and present to my surroundings.”
On a final note, Tricia adds: “Meditation is an activity; mindfulness is a way of being. Listening to some guided peaceful practice audio at the end of the day is incredibly relaxing and helps me to unwind and prepare for a peaceful sleep. If you fancy giving mindfulness a go, there are some great resources available, many of which are free. Books, apps and courses all help but really, you could just start with one mindful breath in the morning and take it from there.”
Tricia Wilkie, The Mind Hub, Maidenhead firstname.lastname@example.org