Your mind

Breathing Space
Teresa Costa, a mindfulness teacher based in Cambridge, offers a simple exercise to help you get through a busy day at work.

“The three-minute breathing space can be done at your desk, in the staff room or wherever is convenient for you. Here is how to practise it:

  • “Step 1: Acknowledge what you are experiencing; maybe you are angry or feeling tired. Notice your thoughts and feelings but do not analyse them. Notice your mind wandering and for now let go of the intention of solving anything.

  • “Step 2: Take your attention to the middle of your chest. Feel your breath and the movements of your belly and chest as you breathe in and out. It is that simple – just do it!

  • “Step 3: Expand your awareness to the rest of the body and continue to pay attention to your physical sensations, moment by moment. Let go of the idea of wanting things to be different. It is awareness of the present moment that you need now. When you notice your mind is wondering, notice where it went and come back to the breath and body.

“Open your eyes, if they were closed, take in your surroundings and continue what you were doing. You can reduce this exercise to one minute if that is all the time you have.”

For more information on Teresa, visit www.health-and-happiness.me

The power of music
“Music is an art form available to almost everyone,” explains music therapist Dr Stella Compton Dickinson. “Music supports the mind and body to work in harmony through joining physical and mental activity. Just as we slow down as we get older, we all have a different inner pace or rhythm. Anxiety disrupts this because it triggers the instinct to take flight. Anxiety creates negative and debilitating feelings that are bottled up and unexpressed. These need a safe outlet or they create butterflies in the stomach, breathlessness, nausea and chest pains. It is best not to push these down – instead, give voice to them, do something creative with that energy. For example you do not need any skills to start discovering the joys of making up or learning music.

“Listening to music can help to settle your heart rate, especially if you focus on your breathing as you listen. In this way you can take stock of your surroundings.”

Dr Stella Compton-Dickinson is the author of The Clinician’s Guide to Forensic Music Therapy (Jessica Kingsley Publishers).

Visit www.stellacompton.co.uk

A breath of fresh air
The Little Pocket Book of Kindness by Lois Blyth is a breath of fresh air and a reminder of all of the good things in the world. It contains lists of ways to be kind and how to make time for the people in your life, improving their lives as well as your own. Studies have shown that acting selflessly, and seeing another person act altruistically, produces good feelings and instils a more positive and happier outlook. The Little Pocket Book of Kindness, with stirring quotations and tales of inspirational icons, such as Mother Teresa and Mahatma Gandhi, will help you aspire to and become the kindest version of yourself. Published by CICO Books, it is priced at £9.99.

Achieving inner calm
“Neuroplasticity is a buzz word in neuroscience which means the more you use a brain’s pathway the ‘stronger’ it becomes,” explains Phil Parker, the founder of The Lightning Process (www.lightningprocess.com). “If you think of calm thoughts, it will become easier for you to be calm, but if you think stressed thoughts, the easier it will be to become stressed. However, neuroplasticity doesn’t care which pathways are used, it just strengthens the most used ones, so by using calming techniques, neuroplasticity will work to make calmness much easier to attain.”

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