Taking ten minutes to do ‘nothing’ may seem like a luxury you can’t afford. But it’s essential when it comes to maintaining one of your greatest assets: your mind.
The terms ‘meditation’ and ‘mindfulness’ might not resonate with everyone, and it feels like it’s very “on trend” right now, but you’ve got to admit: we could all use some strategies to chill out from time-to-time.
According to Beyond Blue and the Heart Foundation of Australia, mental health is an imperative part of your overall health and influences your risk of developing illnesses such as heart disease. So here’s a no-fuss, research-backed introduction to meditation.
As it turns out, you don’t need to light incense and sit uncomfortably for three-hours to reap the benefit. Mindfulness meditation involves “spending specific time focusing on your surroundings and allowing your thoughts to come and go, without judging or trying to change them”, according to SANE Australia.
This kind of meditation has been shown to reduce symptoms of fear, stress and anxiety, preserve the brain’s grey-matter, and improve concentration and memory.
Any movement can in fact be meditation, if it’s done mindfully.
Yoga is an obvious example (check out our timetable for yoga options) – even the most vigorous forms encourage us to focus on movement and breathing with purpose and control. The same goes for Tai Chi and Qigong. And because you’re often concentrating on what you’re doing “in the moment” it gives your mind the ability to relax.
Other not-so-obvious types of moving meditation include: walking (Kinhin meditation), colouring-in and even paying attention while brushing your teeth can be an act of bringing yourself back to the present.
Many of us don’t have the skills or discipline to meditate solo, which makes guided tools very helpful. The following free resources are backed by science and some of Australia’s leading mental health organisations.
Smiling Mind: Backed by SANE Australia, this app provides meditation programs to help you cope with the stresses and challenges of daily life. It has programs for young children, teenagers, adults, as well as those in sporting, educational and workplace settings.
Headspace: This app has a series of guided ‘packs’ designed to address common issues. For example, the ‘Work and Performance’ meditation packs include modules around productivity, focus, creativity and balance. The ‘Sport’ packs include motivation, focus, training, analysis and recovery.
ACT Companion: Companion app to best-selling book The Happiness Trap. This app has mindfulness recordings for beginners through to experienced meditators. They run from less than five-minutes to over half-an-hour and are designed to use anywhere, any time – even on the busiest of days.
We offer yoga classes in the gym regularly during the week – check out our timetable.