Stress, anxiety, sleep problems – we’ve all been there at some stage in our lives, whether it was during exams, when there’s too much to do at work or home, when we’re totally preoccupied with something or a relationship breaks up. We probably all know that feeling of over-thinking things, brooding, ruminating and living so much inside ourselves that we don’t notice the small pleasures around us, here and now.
Mindfulness teaches us a way in which we can get back in touch with the experience of being alive – learning to savour the simple pleasures that may have been there all along but which we failed to appreciate. When we’re feeling low or depressed, bad memories and thoughts from the past can flood our minds and make us worry about the future. Mindfulness helps to stop these negative thoughts from escalating and teaches us to focus on the present moment, rather than reliving the past or pre-living the future. It teaches us to shift our mental gear stick into another mode where we experience the world directly and non-judgementally. It teaches us to listen more intently to others and to ourselves, non critically.
Exercise and massage are easy and effective ways to practise mindfulness. Walking can be adapted to your level of fitness from a stroll in the country or a hike up a mountain. Stop for a minute or two, sit on a rock or a bench and “just be”, feeling the wind on your face or listening to the birds, focusing on the feeling of your feet on the ground.
Mindfulness massages concentrate on deep breathing and visualisation to de-clutter and still the mind at the start of the massage. This deep breathing can be practised at home aided by a massage oil such as ESPA’s restorative or soothing body oil. Massaging a small amount of oil into each shoulder for five rotations is amazingly calming. Similarly, deep breathing is aided by placing one drop of the oil into the palms of the hands and taking three deep inhalations. You should allow yourself at least ten minutes peaceful “me time” each day to practise mindfulness.
” We’ve spent the last decade looking after our bodies and we’ll spend the next decade looking after our minds “. Susan Harmsworth MBE, founder of luxury skincare brand, ESPA.