Thoughts are not who we are. They are changeable and dynamic. We can control them; they do not have to control us. They often become habits of thinking but we can change them if they are not bringing us peace and contentment when we become aware of them. Thoughts are powerful in that they change the type of neurochemicals we produce in our brain and can, over time with enough repetition, affect its very structure. Mindfulness is a great way of letting us become aware of these subconscious emotional drivers and how they are influencing our moods and feelings. We can take back control.
A Harvard Medical School study showed the following results where the subjects had been doing an average of 27 minutes mindfulness exercises per day:
• MRI scans showed decreased grey matter (nerve cells) in amygdala (anxiety)
• Increased grey matter in hippocampus – memory and learning
• Produced psychological benefits that persist throughout the day
• Reported reductions in stress
Try our free relaxation recordings
Use our free deep relaxation exercises to help you relax and rewire your brain. By reducing the production of stress neurochemicals, you allow your body to heal and your mind to use the energy for helpful insights and new ideas.
This first one is just under 3 minutes long and will take you away to a sunny beach. It instantly improves the mood.
This second one will help you release tension in your muscles. It takes about 22.37 minutes but can feel like just 5.
This third one is to relax the mind without showing any signs of physical movement so you can do it on the train or when others are around. It lasts 18.13 minutes.
This fourth one is 16.15 minutes long and takes you on a magical trip in a cloud. Very relaxing.
Our final meditation last just over 8 minutes and helps you visualise things you want to achieve in your life.
It is best to do a deep relaxation exercise first thing in the morning or late afternoon. Leave at least an hour after eating or do it before meals so that the process of digestion does not interfere with your relaxation. It is usually best to do it sitting upright on a chair with your spine straight but some people prefer doing it lying down. The only risk then is that you might fall asleep. You want to stay conscious so that you can release the stressful thoughts consciously. It is not hypnosis, you stay in control.
Here are some more mindfulness meditations from the BBC.