How To Practice Meal Time Mindfulness Meditation

Feel like you’re burning the candle at both ends? Looks like you’re part of a growing, 15 million-strong club. According to a recent UK study, almost half of all women are stressed out, with 80 per cent of us feeling like we don’t do enough – despite completing an average of 26 tasks every day. While there’s nothing wrong with wanting to do your best, sometimes you’ve got to press pause on that to-do list, give yourself a pat on the back and indulge in a few de-stress rituals, like these…

The weeks disappearing faster than your post-workout smoothie? Nope, time isn’t speeding up – we re just too busy to notice the minutes slipping past until they’re buried under a mountain ofto-dos.

That’s where mindfulness comes in. This meditation practice neatly flips you from ‘sleep mode’ to ‘switched on’ by putting the present at the top of your agenda. “Mindfulness is the practice of being focused on the present while being aware of emotions that arise at the time,” says mindfulness expert Nikki Harman.

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Your challenge, ifyou choose to accept it, is to tackle your daily tasks with more awareness. It’s not easy, but it’s worth the effort as you’ll score a better mood and more time to enjoy it! Just follow our mindful schedule…

When you start the day in a hectic way it sets a frantic pace for the rest of your agenda. Racing out of bed might seem like a productive jump-start but if you’re racing all day long you’ll be doing more harm than good to your health. Embracing a sense of calm first thing will help to clear your head and set you up positively.

“Before getting up, lie still and notice how you feel,” says Harman. “Keep your eyes open and take notice of everything around you. Be aware of each thought that comes into your head, but rather than ‘hook’ yourself on to it, try to let it pass by. Listen to your breath then slowly sit up and gently stretch. Acknowledge yourself and thank your body for all that it does for you, Crazy day ahead? You only need one thing on your to-do list: get zen regardless of how healthy or fit you are. Give yourself these few minutes after waking up as your daily gift to yourself.”

Squeezing your way on to a cramped bus or train can ruin your whole day. “If you feel frustrated during your commute, breathe it out. Imagine you are blowing it away as you “As soon as you recognise this, the tension will ease.” There’s nothing to be gained from getting angry, so try turning it into a positive: extra time to listen to music; a moment of peace away from work; time to figure out a problem in your head. Anything that you can use to your advantage.

Exercise and stress relief go hand in hand, so if you’re seeking a little respite from on-the-job frazzles, set aside some time for a quick workout during your lunch hour. “Meditation and mindfulness don’t always involve emptying the mind of all thought, and there are many ways of practising the technique without sitting quietly,” Harman explains. “I sometimes run or walk. One of my favourite things to do is to tackle a steep hill while tackling a problem in my mind, taking it step by step until I reach the top ofthe hill.”

If polishing off a packet of chips or a handful of biscuits is an inevitable part of your afternoon, there’s a simple trick you can try to curb unhealthy snacking. “Swap your naughty treat for a piece of fruit and try to be mindful as you eat,” advises Harman. “Concentrate fully on the experience of eating it, in order to combat the desire for something unhealthy. Zone in on the fruit and think about how it grew, the taste, texture and aroma of the food, and feel grateful for it. It really works.” Still can t get that treat off your mind? “Find a way to satisfy your cravings in a mindful, healthy way,” says nutritionist Christine Bailey. “Keep a mini bar of dark chocolate on hand or try nibbling on a handful ofchocolate-coated nuts. Having a plan will make you feel more in control.”

Mealtime meditation

When you hit the kitchen to rustle up a quick dinner, take a step back and absorb the experience – tuning in will make it less of a chore. “When you’re preparing food, spend a few minutes really concentrating on what you’re doing,” advises Harman. “Spend a moment marvelling at how amazing your body and brain is to be able to coordinate itself to walk around the kitchen, and chop and prepare the food.

Be grateful to yourself, too – the time and energy you spent at work, making enough cash to buy the nourishing food.”

Multitasking at mealtimes – staring at the TV or scrolling on your phone while you mindlessly chew – generally leads to eating more than your body needs. “Slow down and sit at the table to eat,” says Bailey. “Put your knife and fork down or take sips of water between bites, or try eating with a smaller spoon to slow you down. Listen to internal cues to know when to stop.” Tuning in to your body when you eat will also increase the satisfaction factor. “Take a deep breath before you eat; this helps relax the body,” Bailey adds.

Sayalittle praise before bed

A good night’s sleep allows your body to restore and repair, but disrupted shut-eye can leave you feeling on edge the following morning. “At night, practise feeling grateful for the day you have had, and seeing stressful moments as opportunities to learn,” says Harman. “Spend a few moments being aware of the bed supporting you and the sheets keeping you warm.” Kick back with a cup of lemon balm tea leading up to bedtime and minimise evening distractions so your mind is clear, rather than racing.

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