Having a family is the most wonderful thing in the world. The feelings of love and commitment can get you through anything the world can throw at you. However, because these feelings are so strong, when things go wrong, it can be overwhelming. Feelings of worry, hurt and frustration can manifest into stress and anxiety, which can become harmful and debilitating.
Mindfulness and meditation are increasingly being used by people of all ages as a way to detach from negative emotions, and replace them with positive ones.
Training your mind can make you think the way you want to think and not just succumb to negative reactions. Meditation is free, doesn’t require much effort and could be the best way to cope with the stresses of daily family life.
The physical benefits
Meditation can have positive physical effects as well as improving mental wellbeing.
An increase in immune function as well as a decrease in inflammation at a cellular level has been shown to occur as a result of meditation. Being physically healthy is connected to a having a happy mind and both are important when looking after a family.
It decreases depression, anxiety and stress
Regular meditation is known to increase positive emotion and decrease depression, anxiety and stress. It allows you to cope with the stress of family life by allowing you to gain self-control. This will improve your ability to regulate negative emotions, as well as your ability to introspect positively.
There could be a change to your brain
Meditation physically changes your brain – forever. It does this by increasing the amount of grey matter, as well as the volume in areas related to positive emotion and self-control. It also positively alters the the cortical thickness in areas related to paying attention.
It allows you to be productive and creative
Your focus and attention will be greatly improved by regular meditation – improving productivity at home or at work.
This focus boosts your ability to multi-task and a clearer mind will increase creative thinking. With a fresh perspective on life and a newly improved ability to think outside the box you could do anything. How about starting a website or business from home?
How to meditate
There are many different kinds of meditation, and it’s not simply about trying to “empty your mind”.
Much daily meditation practice for Buddhist monks concentrates on developing compassion for others.
There are also moving meditation techniques like Tai Chi or Qi Gong, and even a simple but effective walking meditation. It’s easiest for beginners to focus on their breathing – one of the simplest forms of concentration meditation.
As you improve you can move on to more mindfulness-orientated meditation with the aim of developing greater inner balance.
6 steps to successful meditation
- Find a quiet or comfortable spot to sit comfortably.
- Focus your attention inward by closing your eyes.
- Focus on your natural breathing pattern and observe how your mind wanders
- Then begin to count your breaths. When you notice thoughts ‘intruding’ bring your mind back gently to counting breaths.
- Don’t be frustrated when thoughts keep appearing, just gently acknowledge them, let them go and return to the breath. At first meditation will be difficult but each time you try you’ll gain more control over your thoughts.
- Start with a few minutes each day and gradually build up to 20-30 minutes.
Places to meditate
The best place to meditate when you’re just starting out is at home. It’s best to feel warm and safe when trying something new like this. It’s also the most likely place where you won’t be interrupted.
Try and schedule a meditation when you know the kids will be out or carve out a 30 minute window during the day when the family has to be quiet. Perhaps you could offer a reward to entice them into observing a quiet period.
Once you get the hang of meditation and feel the benefits you might want to continue your practice wherever you are. Trying your meditation techniques in unusual places can really help to hone the skills of centering your mind and calming your thoughts.
During a lunch break or a trip to the shops you could drive somewhere beautiful – or just in the car park – and take a few minutes to be mindful of your day.
In the toilet
It can often be the only place you get a few minutes to be alone. At home or at work, shut the door, sit down and just take time to quiet your mind.
In the supermarket queue
Instead of fuming at the delays, take the time to be present; feel the energy of those around you, focus on every sound and be mindful.
In the bath
Most of us love us love a hot soak, but why not take it a few steps further and really focus on the moment, perhaps contemplate on all the things you feel grateful for.
You don’t have to shut your eyes for this one as it might be a little dangerous. Be mindful of every sound and embrace the feelings of sun, wind or rain on your skin.
At the bus stop
The perfect place to cultivate that sense of being centred amid the hustle and bustle – just try not to miss your bus.
In the shower
Let’s face it, there are not many minutes in the day-to-day of life to have for yourself. One daily, private occurrence is taking a shower. It could be prudent to take this opportunity to practice a mindfulness meditation that could set you up to face the stresses of the day.
4 steps to morning mindfulness
Be fully present
Set your intention to be fully present just for the next few minutes in the shower.
Say to yourself, “For the next few minutes there is nothing for me to do, nowhere for me to go, this is exactly where I need to be. Any thoughts that pop up about what I have to do, I will come back to later. Just for now, I will bring my attention to the experience of being in the shower.”
Notice all of the sensations
Listen to the sound of the water, watch the droplets, smell the shampoo, feel the heat of the water. Tune into the physical sensations within your body and how your skin feels. Take this time to gently massage the skin, face and scalp as you wash. Feel each breath flowing in and out of your body.
Be kind to yourself
If your mind wanders, be gentle as this is what minds do. Notice the thoughts and, without following where they are taking you, gently bring your attention back to being in the shower, the water and where you are in your washing routine.
Be compassionate towards yourself
Gently turn towards whatever your experience is – softness, aching, judgmental thoughts, emotions that pop up. Just for these few moments try not to analyse, judge, fix or change anything.
With kindness, pause and acknowledge the experience and then gently bring your attention back to the feel of the water, the breath in the body, the smell of the body wash. You may have to do this again and again. Lastly, there is no aim or outcome, just the practice of doing this enough to bring some peace and clarity to your mind.