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Mindfulness

Five steps to creating your mindfulness meditation

Meditation is simply a way of training our mind and pushing away its anxieties.

Bamford was founded on the philosophy that ‘wellbeing’ is a state that affects our body and mind, and that in order to be well – to be happy and healthy – we need to nurture the two in tandem.

In the past few years, the practice of mindfulness has come to the fore in discussions around wellness and has been greatly praised for its ability to make us more focused, creative, successful, and in the case of meditation, lower our stress levels and manage our capacity to cope with pain.

According to the world health organization, around 3.6% of the global population currently suffers from an anxiety disorder. However, studies have shown that meditation practice does alleviate symptoms of anxiety.

Rooted in Buddhist philosophy, mindfulness is the ability to focus on the present moment and embrace it rather than dwelling on the past or anticipating the future. It is a meditative practice in which you observe your thoughts and feelings without judging them as good or bad, rather you accept them for what they are. Mindful practices range from short exercises where you simply focus on your breath, to more considered, disciplined practice, such as meditation.

For many, the concept of meditation can seem daunting, conjuring notions of sitting for long periods surrounded by incense. But meditation doesn’t need to be demanding and it doesn’t ask you to believe in any teaching or theory. Meditation is simply a way of training our mind and pushing away its anxieties.

Research has proved that meditation does in fact change our brain on a physiological level. Studies have shown increases and decreases in the density of grey matter in certain parts of the brain that in turn lowered stress levels and sensation of pain as well as bringing participants greater cognitive focus. Taking time to focus on our wellbeing is about being kind to ourselves, which is why we believe so strongly in the practice of mindfulness. It teaches us to be kind to ourselves and that feeling of compassion inevitably filters through to others and influences the decisions we make.

Read on for simple ways to introduce mindfulness into your life. For more information about meditation classes and mindfulness retreats at our Wellness Spas, click here.

HOW TO CREATE YOUR OWN MINDFULNESS MEDITATION:

1. Timing:

Meditate at the same time every day, advises Cristina Chandika Ma, resident yogi and healer at our Cotswolds Wellness spa. ‘I always make sure that the first thing I do when I wake up in the morning is to sit still in silence. That’s how I start my day: if I do that, I know that today is going to be wonderful; everything will fall into place.’ Your meditation practice will soon become a part of your daily routine. 'Just as your body and your mind know that at 10pm it is time to sleep, your body and your mind will know that at 7am in the morning it is time to meditate. You will go into meditation very easily and you don’t need many tools.'

2. Location:

Consider where you meditate as well as when. Yoga teacher at our Brompton Cross Wellness Spa, Athena instructs: 'It is important to meditate in a room that is clean, warm, free of clutter and unnecessary distractions (no pinging phones!).'

There are several ways you can create a sacred space for your meditation. ‘You can make your surroundings comfortable and sacred by lighting some candles, incense such as Sandalwood or Palo Santo and/or playing some of your favourite music.’ Suggests intuitive healer Sinead de hora. ‘By doing so, you set your surroundings to align with the energy of peace that you want to magnify, when in that energy you are naturally connected to the voice of your soul otherwise known as, your intuition.’

3. Sit, settle and breathe:

Find a comfortable place to sit. 'It doesn’t matter how you sit, especially early in your practice, how you are sitting at all, as long as you are comfortable and could be still for a while. You could even lie down!' suggests Athena. The important thing is that you are comfortable. 'Eyes could be open or closed. If eyes are open - soft gaze at a non-moving object (something green like a tree is always soothing) or the tip of the nose. If eyes are closed, internally gaze through the space of your third eye (between your eyebrows).'

Start to ease into your mindfulness meditation by paying attention to your breath. 'The breath is everything!' says Athena. 'Ujjayi breath, sometimes called ‘ocean breath’, calms the central nervous system, brings your awareness within and creates the groundwork for you to start witnessing your thoughts. Once you have got the hang of witnessing your thoughts with no attachment and emotions on a regular basis, you cease to be the puppet of your monkey mind. This is when students find more inner peace and see with more clarity - and they start to respond rather than reacting to every day challenges. All this starts with the deepening and regulating of one’s breathe.'

4. Set an intention:

Once you have become familiar with the rhythm of your breathing – the link between mind and body - you can engage your mind further by setting an intention. According to intuitive healer, Sinead de hora, ‘When you set an intention you relax your nervous system as it brings you back to the present moment and it aligns your energy with the statement: this allows you to step into this energy of attraction and therefore you awaken your heart energy and an energy of inner trust, knowing that you can create this intention and any intention that you desire going forward.’

To set an intention, Sinead instructs: ‘Close your eyes and connect with your breath. Focusing on your breath for 10 inhalations. Then, roll your eyes upwards and inwards towards your third eye and state how you want to feel after your meditation. Repeat it in your mind three times. Exhaling that energy down your body knowing that you are aligning with your vision.’

5. Harness the power of crystals:

Using crystals in your meditation practice can help amplify your inner voice and clear your surroundings. Each crystal is different and has different healing properties and uses: it is important to choose the right crystal for your practice as this will help you reinforce more specific intentions. ‘Different stones attract - and work - for the individual in their own way, so how we use them, and how we respond to them, is entirely unique’, explains Crystal and Spiritual Healer, Emma Knowles. ‘Crystals act as filters to our energy, so they can be used not only to draw out the things which no longer serve us, but also to draw forth what we desire – be it confidence, love or energy’.

'Crystal filters need a job - a task. When placed with an intention of ‘I ask this crystal to lift and hold a happy mood and keep us safe, calm, happy and energetically healthy’ - they can do epic things - as each crystal placed under this intention will start to work like a wifi hub, transmitting signals to each other and across the whole house at that intention and that frequency.’

‘I have been using them most of my life – so I pick what intuitively am drawn to that day. I set my intention, ‘what do I need for today’ and then I reset my eyes, my mind and let myself be led to what’s needed.’

Strengthen your heart with rose quartz. ‘We all need a little softness on the day-to-day, and pale pink Rose Quartz is just the thing. It is excellent for general love and luck – I always say that it brings some “every day magic” to our lives, and lightens the load. Keep a piece in your pocket for a little lift, when you need it most’.