Mindfulness can be defined as the act of consciously focusing on the present moment, while accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations; with compassion, without judgement.
As stress levels rise, the number of mindfulness-related books, sites, magazines, apps, games, retreats increase daily. And whilst some of these items have a definite stink of ‘fad’ among them, there are also some really valuable resources available that will support you and your family/colleagues/staff/students on your quest for more zen.
Here’s 5 of the good ones:
- ‘A Mindfulness Guide for the FRAZZLED,’ by Ruby Wax, available for under £7 on Amazon right now. Comedian Ruby Wax has been pretty open about her struggles with mental health, and now with an MCBT (Mindfulness-based Cognitive Behaviour Therapy) degree from Oxford under her belt, she’s written some pretty inspiring stuff. Ruby offers an honest and comedic perspective, along with a ton of practical tips and information. Included are a 6-week Mindfulness course, along with specific chapters aimed at parents. This book is a must when it comes to mindfulness. I’ve already got her one, ‘How to be Human: The Manual,’ lined up and ready to go!
- ‘8 Minute Meditation: Quiet your mind. Change your life,’ by Victor Davich (Currently under £14 on Amazon.) This 8-week programme is full of practical information and guidance to help you make your practice consistent and effective. I first read this a few years ago when I was just venturing into mindfulness, and a big part of me believed that in order to really find my headspace, I’d probably need to devote an hour a day to sitting in lotus position, or perhaps spend three-months at an Ashram in India. Eat, Pray, Love your heart out. This book offered me an alternative and much more realistic schedule of 8-minutes daily practice (a lot harder than it sounds!) that I could comfortably slot into my busy life. If you prefer a less anecdotal approach, this book offers a well-structured, text-book style course, sure to bring that little more peace into your day.
- ‘Mindfulness On the Go’ card-set by Anna Black, currently under £13. These activity cards come in a beautiful box and won’t look out of place on any kitchen worktop or office desk. There are 54 beautifully designed cards, split into Practice and Activity cards. The Practice cards are mini-meditations that you can do when you’re out and about (you could easily fit the pack into your bag, or select one to keep in your purse/wallet.) The Activity cards, on the other hand, tend to focus on setting intentions for the day and increasing awareness of your daily habits. I love these cards because not only do they look pretty, but they encourage me to actually practise mindfulness and not just forget about it as soon as my ‘to do list’ starts to ramp up.
- ‘Mindful Kids’ 50 Activity-card set’ by Whitney Stewart and Mina Brau. I’ve mentioned this one before, and it’s just an absolute bargain at under £8. If you’re a parent of young children, struggling to fit in mindfulness around the kids, then why not include them in your practice? You’ll increase your own chances of success dramatically, while at the same time setting them up for a calmer, happier day. The cards are divided into 5 categories, summarised as confidence building; handling challenging emotions; sharpening awareness muscles; acceptance of yourself/the world; rest and relaxation. The activities are great fun for adults and children, most relying on imagination alone. If nothing else, you’re bound to create some precious family memories. Remember when mum tried to ‘be a tree’ and fell over?!
- ‘In the Moment’ magazine isn’t cheap at £5.99 per monthly issue, but it’s a worthwhile luxury if you’re feeling inclined to spend. The act of sitting down in silence and reading any magazine or book is brilliant me time/mindfulness, but this magazine takes it to a whole other level. It’s crammed full of zen-inspiring articles and interviews, along with practical tips, activities and pull-out resources. It doesn’t hurt that it’s also produced on beautiful paper – I find myself repeatedly going into the present moment, feeling the touch of this beneath my palms. Reading this magazine in all together a lovely experience. You can save money by subscribing online, or pick it up monthly on most supermarket magazine stands.
Wanting to ‘up your attention,’ without the expense? Get yourself on YouTube! Just searching for mindfulness or meditation will bring up a ton of results, and though you will have to wade through lots of cheesy/annoying/awful clips, you might just find something that works for you. Here’s a link to some brilliant audio meditations from Professor Mark Williams. I’ve had a lot of success with these!
The same attitude can be applied to the app store. Read reviews before you download, and expect free apps to throw ‘in app purchases’ your way. I’m a big fan of the Head-space app, described as a ‘mindfulness coach in your pocket.’ This app gets bigger and better every year – unfortunately, so does the price! At present, the first course of 10 beginners sessions are still free and definitely worth a download. These babies lasted me over a year and some of the animation clips have really stuck with me.