Mind­ful­ness:abalm­for­brainand­body

The Jewish Chronicle - - JC SPECIAL -

MIND­FUL­NESS IS a form of med­i­ta­tion that has been s h o w n t o help re­duce stress, man­age anx­i­ety and im­prove mood. Of­ten prac­tised through de­lib­er­ate slow breath­ing, mind­ful­ness is in­creas­ingly be­ing used as a well­ness ther­apy by peo­ple with neu­ro­log­i­cal con­di­tions such as mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis, Parkin­son’s dis­ease, mo­tor neu­rone dis­ease, chal­leng­ing be­hav­iour and chronic pain.

In some pal­lia­tive and end-of-life con­texts, both car­ers and in­di­vid­u­als em­ploy mind­ful­ness as a way of han­dling dis­tress and nur­tur­ing ac­cep­tance.

Mind­ful­ness can be ex­plored with a guide or alone. Even a small dose can be a balm for the mind and body.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

Mind­ful­ness med­i­ta­tion is about be­com­ing more aware of each mo­ment; notic­ing the sen­sa­tions, smells, sounds and tastes of our ex­pe­ri­ences, as well as the thoughts and feel­ings that oc­cur from one mo­ment to the next.

Un­like some other forms of med­i­ta­tion, it is about ac­cept­ing and ob­serv­ing the mind’s busy chat­ter, not qui­et­ing it.

Mind­ful­ness means wak­ing up to the present, and that might be some­thing as sim­ple as be­ing aware of the feel of a banis­ter as we walk up­stairs.

Types of mind­ful­ness med­i­ta­tion in­clude mind­ful breath aware­ness (usu­ally done seated), mi n d f u l b o d y aware­ness (usu­ally Ne­mone Jake­man: ‘Mind­ful­ness can ben­e­fit ev­ery­one’ done in a ly­ing po­si­tion), and mind­ful move­ment, in­volv­ing sim­ple yoga or tai chi. When peo­ple train in mind­ful­ness, brain pat­terns can change. Al­ter­ations in ar­eas of the brain linked to emo­tion, de­ci­sion­mak­ing, at­ten­tion and em­pa­thy can have pos­i­tive psy­cho­log­i­cal and phys­i­o­log­i­cal ef­fects.

WHO IS IT FOR?

Ne­mone Jake­man is a neu­ro­log­i­cal con­di­tions sup­port man­ager and oc­cu­pa­tional ther­a­pist at Sweet­Tree Home Care Ser­vices. She is an ad­vo­cate for the use of mind­ful­ness tech­niques in all care en­vi­ron­ments. “Work­ing with clients with neu­ro­log­i­cal con­di­tions, I have cer­tainly seen the ben­e­fits of mind­ful­ness — not only among the clients but among fam­ily car­ers and in my­self,” she says.

“I t i s too of­ten the case in all our lives that we lose sense of our self-care and for­get to be present in our own ex­pe­ri­ences.

Mind­ful­ness can as­sist in read­dress­ing our sense of bal­ance and pro­vide men­tal ‘time out’ from the tun­nel vi­sion of work­ing through each day. Any­one can try it and ev­ery­one can ben­e­fit from it.”

ONE MIND­FUL MINUTE

Are you a med­i­ta­tion be­gin­ner? No prob­lem, says Ne­mone.

Take a seat and read aloud or record the fol­low­ing in­struc­tions on to a media de­vice, ready to play back to your­self.

Make the most of this minute to re­lax dur­ing times of pain or stress:

Gen­tly close your eyes and take a deep breath. Ex­hale. In­hale and feel your chest ex­pand. Breathe out and feel the air leave your chest. Breathe in … and breathe out… In … and out … Imag­ine be­ing sur­rounded with a warm, vi­brant light.

Imag­ine the warmth of the sun on a spring day touch­ing your skin.

As you breathe in, let this warm light fill your lungs.

As you breathe out, imag­ine the light spread­ing around your chest.

Breathe in and let the light move fur­ther this time.

Breathe out and let the light go up to your neck and down past your stom­ach. Breathe in and swal­low even more of this warm, vi­brant light. Breathe out and let it fill your head. Breathe in and fill your en­tire up­per body with this warm, vi­brant light. Feel the warmth in your arms and in your fin­gers.

Al­low this vi­brant energy to in­ten­sify in your up­per body. Think of noth­ing but this warm, vi­brant light.

If a thought comes by, al­low your­self to ac­knowl­edge its pres­ence, but then re­fo­cus on the light Breathe in … and breathe out… In … and out … On your next breath in, let the warm, vi­brant light reach your thighs.

Breathe out and al­low it to reach your knees. Breathe in … and breathe out … Breathe in, and let the light fill your legs all the way down to your toes. Breathe out … Breathe in … and breathe out … Fo­cus on your breath and the warm light – noth­ing but your breath and the light.

Re­lax … Sweet­Tree Home Care Ser­vices See sweet­tree.co.uk or call 020 7624 9944

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