In recent times life has become (additionally) stressful as a whole; mainly due to us having to work longer hours (within and outside the home) in our attempt to handle the skyrocketing living expenses of today’s world. So as a result of that depression and anxiety have risen like never before among the general population.
Hence the reason why today mindfulness exercises are being encouraged by many medical experts and the media. Mindfulness exercises are very similar to meditation, and involve us having to constructively focus our mind on a particular activity in order to ground our feelings and thoughts. The phrase “mindfulness exercise” is now even becoming a household term.
I myself was first introduced to mindfulness exercises by my therapist three years ago. At that time I was having around 3-5 extreme meltdowns every week. While I was uncontrollably yelling and screaming the police were even called to our home a few times. It was also discovered that my heart rate usually sat at around 140bpm (which is roughly double the rate that’s generally considered to be normal) during my daily life due to my constant anxiety. That put me at great risk of dying early from a heart attack or a stroke.
Thus I was given various mindfulness exercises by my therapist to try out. The reason why I was given a selection of mindfulness exercises to try is because every person is different, and different exercises perform better and worse for each individual. After trying out a few of them I found that an exercise called “Leaves on a Stream” was most affective for me personally.
For leaves on a stream I stop and imagine that I’m sitting beside a stream. Then I imagine that every thought or feeling that rushes through my head (regardless of what it is) is pulled out of my mind and placed on a leaf, and then into the imaginary stream. This enables me to ground my mind in the present moment as I become consciously aware of my thoughts being chaotic to begin with, though eventually I see my thoughts and feelings becoming much slower, and therefore calmer.
Initially my concern about doing mindfulness exercises each day was that it would take precious time away from everything that I have to do. A day is not a long time, and hours slip by very fast when we have a lot to do. However from the success of doing leaves on a stream in my psychology session, I knew how important it was for me to do the exercise regularly.
I pondered and pondered for a way to work the exercise into my busy daily life, and then the solution came to me. I would set my alarm clock a little earlier than I usually get up each morning. Then I’d do leaves on a stream from that time to the moment I generally get out bed. My alarm clock will also be set for my usual wake up time just in case I become so relaxed by the exercise that I fall asleep.
Wonderful things have happened to me since I began doing mindfulness exercises regularly three years ago. My heart rate now typically sits at around 88bpm which is well and truly in the healthy range (nearly half of what it previously sat at). Meltdowns have now become far less severe than before, and they’re also not happening as often. Nowadays I also feel much more relaxed and am able to enjoy my life a lot more.
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