A breathing meditation for beginners

Mindfulness-nature

If you’re new to mindfulness or meditation, then a really good place to start can be with a breathing meditation exercise.

This type of meditation technique can be good for beginners as it can help to focus on something specific, rather than a more advanced meditation such as the Just sitting meditation which can trickier if you’re not used to a regular meditation practice. This type of single focus meditation can be a great place to start for mindfulness beginners.

The breath is always with us and doesn’t need to be forced or altered in any way, we can just notice the movement and the changes we experience in our body. Bringing our focus back to the body and away from our busy minds.

Notice as you inhale and then exhale, notice the feeling of the breath on your lips or nostrils and notice the sensation  on your chest and abdomen.

Notice that place of stillness at the end of an exhalation.

Try not to stop thinking or empty your mind, just notice your thoughts and keep returning your focus to your breath. Take care not judge yourself for having thoughts, they are completely natural and the most mindful moments can be in that split second after you realise your mind has wandered.

If you feel that you struggle to find the time to meditate, then try a 3 minute breathing meditation.

Even if a 3 minute meditation feels impossible, then a 3 breath meditation practise can provide just enough of a pause to make a difference.

Just breathe.

Love and light, The Happy Bee x

 

So much sky…

So much sky

On my first visit to Iceland, a few years ago, I was memorised by the sheer size of the sky. I stepped off the plane and couldn’t stop looking upwards. From horizon to horizon was a blue grey expanse. It was one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen and even amongst the glaciers, the blue lagoon and the waterfalls, it was one of the most memorable things I experienced on that trip.

My current job involves a lot of driving, well I say driving, but what I mean is crawling along on one of the worse motorways in the UK. Last week I was travelling over the same bridge that I’d travelled over hundreds of times before, when I happened to glance upwards and there it was…the same sky.

It stopped me in my tracks as I realised that not once on all my commutes had I noticed it. Every day I’d drove back and forth over the same stretch of road and not once had I really seen it. The same sky stretched from horizon to horizon. I’d been oblivious to the wonder of nature above me, as I’d been too busy living in my mind and not noticing the world around me.

Look up people, look up.

Love & light, The Happy Bee x

Just sitting meditation sunset

Just sitting meditation

Can we allow ourselves to just be? To just do nothing without any goal or judgement?

I’ve mentioned before how I really struggled when I began to practise meditation several years ago as I thought I was a TERRIBLE failure. My mind wandered constantly and I was overcome with urges to get up and do something, anything rather than just nothing! It was only after years of study that I realised that that is exactly what our minds are supposed to do. Our brains are amazingly wonderful. They are more complex than any computer and orchestrate our multi-faceted, self healing, self mending human bodies. Human civilization has reached a point where it has been able to fly to the moon, connect across the globe via the world web wide and other far reaching scientific advances. Our brains are programmed to think and to plan. They are the machines that keep us safe, keep us alive from one moment to the next. Every one of us is a genius problem solver and survival of the fittest has ensured we are just that. Only our most problem solving ancestors would have survived, the ones who were able to recognise danger and plan and outwit. The ones who worked out the best routes to food and the best way to keep safe from predators.  We’re now left with a primeval brain in a modern world. We no longer need to run from sabre tooth tigers or spend every waking moment foraging for food but our brain doesn’t know this.

Our minds are so used to planning, doing and being active that so many of us find it hard not to. It feels like a human instinct for many of us and there’s a Buddhist saying that ‘a busy mind is a lazy mind’. Meaning it’s easy to keep going, to focus on our thoughts, think about our yesterdays and plan for our tomorrows and one of the greatest challenges of mindfulness can be to just do nothing. It can feel so unnatural, so self indulgent and a huge waste of time but I honestly believe that we need that space. We need time to unwind and to process the chaos and noise around us.

Reading this, your mind is probably already trying to solve this problem work out why you don’t have time to do nothing, preparing your excuses; you have kids, you have work, you have busy lives etc but it can just be a minute or two; the couple of minutes it takes waiting for the kettle to boil or five minutes waiting for your train. Just create a space, a moment in time where you just stop and notice. There is no need to go looking for anything or try and fix anything, instead just be. Notice your breathing, your body, and the sounds, sights and smells around you. And all of this without judgement. If a thought or sensation comes along then acknowledge it but don’t just on that thought train, just let it pass and return to being.

I try and incorporate a 10 minute nature ‘just sitting practice’ into my day. I sit on my garden bench and notice my garden, noticing the plants, the apple tree, the breeze on my face and the sky above me. There are often urges to criticise or yearn for something different; my fence needs usually needs painting, the grass is too long or I preferred it when the tree was in blossom but I just try and those thoughts go and return to the world around me. Throughout the year I notice as the garden changes, from one season to the next. Is there somewhere you could have a sitting space?  Even if you don’t have a garden, a balcony or even just from your window? Mindfulness and nature can bring real happiness.

A good place to start it with the breath. Just take 3 long slow breaths, with each out breath gradually slowly than the last. It’s a good way to bring our awareness from the mind and down to our body. Then begin to just notice. Notice without judgement and without trying to find anything. That’s all.

And remember mindfulness is known as mindfulness practice for a reason. None of us are perfect at it. There’s a Buddhist saying that meditation can never be wrong and can never be right. Each practice will be different, just like each day is different and each moment is different from the last.

Just notice.

Love & light, The Happy Bee x

Mindfulness-nature

Mindfulness and nature

I’ve been practising mindfulness for a few years but mindfulness only really started to make a huge positive impact on my life when I began to apply it to my everyday tasks rather than as separate more ‘formal’ practice. Although formal mindfulness practise or meditation obviously has it’s place, for me the real difference for me began when I started to approach everyday tasks in a mindful way. Using my senses to focus and experience on what it all around me without judgement. Whether it’s making a cup of tea mindfully, truly listening to someone in conversation or taking a mindful bath. I find that there is a direct link between the amount of my day I live mindfully and my levels of happiness, resilience and gratitude.

Azalea shrub - mindfulness and natureOne of my favourite things to do is experience nature in a mindful way and I wouldn’t say I’m an outdoorsy kind of person. Often it can be a short mindful walk even for just 5 or 10 minutes and it doesn’t have to be anywhere different, although a mindful trip to the beach or countryside can be very special. Using my senses to truly look around me, feel the wind on my face, and experience the world through my body and not my mind.

It’s easy to walk on by and be so occupied in our minds that we fail to notice the world around us whether it’s the smell of a summer rain storm or the beauty of this Azalea with it’s little happy bee 🙂

I’d love to know what tasks you approach in a mindful way 🙂

Love & light, The Happy Bee x