54 results for Meditation
Do you remember the last time you did absolutely nothing? Switching off both body and mind is becoming an increasingly difficult thing to do, but its importance is perhaps greater than ever. Many of us know the health benefits of meditation, but the practice can be hard to master. Floatation therapy could offer an alternative, not only freeing the mind but also the body.
A floatation tank is a self-enclosed tub containing Epsom salt-infused water. Heated to body temperature, the idea is for the water’s buoyancy to hold your body as you let go entirely and experience deep relaxation. By removing sensory stimulation, your brain wave patterns will slow and you should find yourself feeling relaxed not only in the tank but for days afterwards.
Taking away any stimuli from the outside world can make it easier to switch off for those who typically struggle with meditation.
This approach has been found to be beneficial for a range of physical health conditions including migraines, joint/muscle pain and fibromyalgia. It can also have profound effects on reducing stress levels and easing mental health conditions like anxiety, depression and sleep issues.
A 2018 study found that just a single one-hour session in a floatation tank caused a significant reduction in anxiety and improvement in mood in 50 participants with stress and anxiety-related conditions.
Therapy Directory’s own Membership Services Team Manager Jo Ferguson says floating does wonders for her mood. Here she recalls her first experience:
“It sounds cheesy, but from the moment I emerged from the pod my overriding emotion was one of indescribable elation, and I remember driving home with the biggest smile on my face for absolutely no reason.
“Coming out of a float feels like a new start for me: I feel re-energised, reinvigorated and at peace with the world.”
Floatation therapy has even been used alongside conventional therapy to support soldiers struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder.
In Sweden, there are over 120 float centres and the treatment itself is covered by the health service. Opinions in the UK seem to still have a little way to go, with it being seen as a luxury rather than a medical provision, but with more awareness of floatation, this could be set to change.
If you’re keen to try it out for yourself, you can visit floatationlocations.com to find a floatation therapy centre near you. Once you’ve booked in for your first float, follow the guidelines below to make the most of your time.
Preparing for floatation therapy
- Try to avoid large meals before floating and use the toilet before entering – remember, you want as few distractions as possible.
- Avoid caffeine and any other stimulants before floating, these may make it harder for you to relax.
- Avoid waxing or shaving immediately beforehand, the levels of Epsom salts in the tank may irritate your skin.
- Avoid using hair dye or fake tan before you float, this could contaminate the tank.
When you’re in the floatation tank
- Try to be still as you float, rather than trying to move around the tank. Interlace your hands behind your head or have your arms stretched out.
- Keep your eyes closed and if thoughts pop in, acknowledge them and let them go. Breathe deeply and enjoy the feeling of weightlessness
- Remember there is no ‘right’ way to float. If closing the lid and having the light off doesn’t feel relaxing to you, experiment with leaving the light on, and/or the lid open.
After your float
- Try not to jump into strenuous work after your float. Take some time to enjoy the relaxing benefits and head back into your day slowly and with intention.
- Note how the float makes you feel just after, for the rest of the day and for the rest of the week. If you find it helps reduce stress, consider making it a regular thing.
Carving out time for relaxation and self-care is important for both mental and physical health. If this is something you’re struggling with, you may find our guide to overcoming self-care stumbling blocks helpful.
A holistic, complementary well-being technique that has been gaining popularity recently, sophrology is seen as a modern evolution of mindfulness and meditation. Blending together Eastern philosophies with Western science to create balance, tap into your own resilience, give you the strength to deal with life’s challenges and open you up to happiness, sophrology was first developed in the 1960s by neurologist and Professor of Psychiatry, Professor Caycedo.
Offering a structured method to optimise health and well-being, sophrology consists of a series of easy to do mental and physical exercises. When practised regularly, it can encourage you to have a healthier, more relaxed body and a calm, more alert mind. Particularly popular amongst athletes to increase their mental and physical performance, sophrology has been gaining more popularity and attention as mindfulness has entered the mainstream.
What can sophrology help with?
Combining relaxation, meditation, gentle body movements, breathing and visualisation techniques, sophrology allows for a stronger mind-body connection. Offering a combination of mental and physical health benefits, many who try sophrology report it helps with:
- feeling relaxed, recharged and able to re-centre
- achieving more restful, uninterrupted sleep
- boosting energy levels
- improving focus and relieving stress
- encouraging and teaching to enjoy each moment as it happens
- decreased feelings of worry and anxiety
- increased feelings of confidence and happiness
For those who struggle to meditate for longer periods of time, sophrology can be a good alternative with similar benefits. Practising just five to 10 minutes before stressful events or situations such as meetings or presentations can help you to feel less nervous and overwhelmed whilst boosting feelings of calm and confidence.
Incorporating just a few simple breathing exercises and relaxation techniques as part of your daily routine between meetings, or during your commute, can help you to feel more prepared to face and overcome challenges more positively while enhancing their feelings of confidence and well-being.
What to expect from a sophrologist
Sophrology can be practised alone or with the guidance of a sophrologist. Typically, you will start sitting or standing while your sophrologist talks through a series of basic exercises. This often starts with focusing on each part of your body, tensing them, releasing, and energising.
They will then guide you to focus on a specific subject, such as noticing how your body is experiencing calmness. This allows you to be able to reproduce these physical sensations of calmness more often at will in your day to day life. With regular practice, these states can be integrated into your everyday life.
Depending on your own needs, you can ask your sophrologist to help guide you toward improving performance for public speaking, increasing calmness for exams, focus for sports competitions, and more. These exercises can all help strengthen and improve your abilities.
Creating time to connect together as a family can be tricky amidst busy schedules and responsibilities. Finding something you can do together that is not only enjoyable but can be mentally and physically beneficial for you and your family can seem even harder. Yoga can be a great solution.
Yoga has shown to lower stress, improve feelings of calmness, and naturally uplift our mood – all while introducing a healthy, relaxing element to our routines. Beneficial for all ages, finding just an hour once a week to take a class together, or a couple of 20-30 minute time slots to fit in some family yoga at home can help create opportunities to talk about how kids are feeling (physically and emotionally).
Yoga can also offer the opportunity for kids to build their confidence, as well as to see exercise as something that can still be playful. For parents who have tried yoga themselves in the past, trying it together with children can bring a whole new appreciation and help to see familiar poses in a new light.
We’ve put together three simple poses to help you introduce yoga to your family.
Want to introduce yoga to kids? Check out Yoga for kids: Simple poses (and their benefits) to get you started.
Start by laying flat on the floor on your back, with your head, neck and spine aligned. Keep your arms beside you, palms down, and press your feet and palms to the floor, lifting your hips until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Hold for a few breaths, then slowly lower your hips back onto the mat.
Benefit: The bridge pose can help to reduce stress and calm children. Stretching the chest, neck and back, it can also help build leg and back strength, improve balance, and help ground you.
Kneel with your knees hip-width apart and your big toes touching. Exhale, lowering your buttocks towards your heels, and rest your torso on or between your thighs. Reach your hands out in front of you, placing your forearms flat on the ground. Let your forehead rest gently on the mat.
Benefit: Child’s pose stretches your hips, ankles and thighs. It can also help relieve stress and fatigue while calming your mind.
Start on your hands and knees, hands hip-width apart, knees under your hips. Press into your palms and raise your knees off the ground, lifting your hips and back. Try to straighten your legs as much as you can while exhaling. Keep your head tucked under and lift your shoulders away from your ears, flattening your shoulder blades on your back.
Benefit: Downward-facing dog can help release stress, calm your mind, and energise your body. It also can help strengthen your arms and legs, relieve headaches, and stretch your upper and lower body.
If you decide to give yoga a try as a family, it’s worth keeping a few things in mind:
It might be boring at first
Clearing your mind can be hard and children may find it boring at first. Keep trying; not everyone will get past this feeling, but it’s almost impossible to tell if you can or not after just one (or two) tries.
It’s not a competition
Yoga is a form of self-care and a great way to look after your well-being. It might be tempting to turn it into a fun competition to try and get children to engage more by seeing who can do the hardest pose or who can stretch the furthest, but this can encourage unhealthy or unsafe behaviour. Try to frame yoga as something that can be fun and calming. While improving their own balance or flexibility can be a great outcome, it’s not the only benefit yoga can have.
There will be fart jokes
Breaking wind during yoga can be pretty common. While in most classes this is accepted as perfectly normal and is politely ignored, while trying yoga with children (or teens), don’t be surprised if they end up squeezing out a joke or two between the inevitable giggles.
Yoga has shown to lower stress, improve feelings of calmness, and naturally uplift our mood – all while introducing a healthy, relaxing element to our routines. No matter what age, everyone can try yoga; all it takes is a little time and commitment.
Yoga can be a great way to not only help kids learn to manage their emotions, but help them to calm down and destress while building their confidence and self-esteem. Attracting all body types, ages and personalities, from all different backgrounds, kids can not only enjoy the playfulness and creativity of the different poses, but also see the benefits of a healthy, calming routine.
Here are three simple poses to help introduce kids to yoga.
Start with your right leg forward. Step your back foot towards the back of the mat to create a long stance. Bend your right leg so your knee is in front of your ankle (but not over your toes) and extend your arms upward. Angle your hips forward, and keep both feet facing the same direction.
Benefit: The warrior one pose helps stretch their chest, shoulders and legs, as well as strengthening their legs. Kids love the strength and fierceness of the warrior poses.
Start on your hands and knees, positioning your knees directly below your hips and waist, with your elbows and shoulders in line. Keep your head in a central, neutral position, with your eyes on the floor. As you exhale, round your spine toward the ceiling. Make sure you keep your shoulders and knees in position. Release your head towards the floor (but don’t force your chin into your chest). Return to your hands and knees position.
Benefit: This playful pose helps relieve tension and stress while stretching the back and neck. Kids can find this pose both calming and fun. Try getting them to meow like a cat while in the pose to help them focus on their breathing and posture.
A bit more of a challenge, the tree pose can be a test of balance for kids. Starting with your feet together, slowly raise your left leg and place your foot on your right inner thigh or shin (while avoiding putting your foot too close to your knee). Bring your palms together in front of your chest, or if you’re feeling steady and confident, raise your arms above your head.
Benefit: The tree pose can help kids improve their balance and concentration. It can also help strengthen their legs and ankles, as well as stretch their chest and legs.
If you’re looking for a good way to talk to children about yoga and explain it (and the benefits), Fearne Cotton’s Yoga Babies can be a great place to start, or Yoga Journal has a great range of simple child-friendly poses you can try out together.
Know you should really try meditation but finding it hard to get motivated? Here are 10 reasons to give it a go.
1. You can’t do it wrong
There are plenty of meditation myths around, but the truth is – you can’t really ‘do it wrong’. You don’t have to clear your mind or think of nothing. Instead, it’s about letting go of focus and letting thoughts come and go. This gets easier with practice so if you struggle at first, don’t give up!
2. It helps to reduce stress
The part of our brain that releases stress hormones can actually be overridden when you meditate. Mindfulness meditation, in particular, has been proven helpful for reducing both stress and anxiety.
3. You don’t have to ‘believe’ in anything
Some people think meditation is only for those who have certain beliefs, but this isn’t true. There is growing scientific evidence showing the benefits of mindfulness meditation, which simply involves focusing on your breath and being aware of the present moment.
There are many different types of meditation though, so you are bound to find the right type to fit in with your lifestyle.
4. It can help you sleep
Meditation is a great way to relax in both body and mind. A study on mindfulness meditation with insomnia sufferers has also found positive results. Those who had meditation training were found to have less total wake time during the night and were more relaxed before going to bed.
5. It can help relieve headaches
If your headaches are caused by stress and tension, meditation could help. Learning to take time for yourself and giving yourself space to unwind, relax and calm your thoughts can go a long way in stress relief. In turn, this will help your muscles relax and relieve headaches caused by muscle tension.
6. It might improve your relationship
Meditation improves self-awareness, helping you to understand yourself better. This increase in self-awareness means you will be more able to notice when you react in certain ways to situations. This could help to avoid big blowout arguments as you’ll pick up on stressors earlier. Bonus points for meditating together!
7. You can meditate anywhere
No, you don’t need a dedicated meditation room, complete with cushions and incense in order to meditate (though if you want this – go ahead, it sounds lovely!).
One of the great things about meditation is all you need is yourself and your attention, meaning you can meditate anywhere. If you can give attention to your breath for a few minutes – you can meditate. We like popping out on lunch for a quick 10-minute meditation in the sunshine.
8. It may help with symptoms of depression
As we’ve mentioned, meditation is a great tool for increasing self-awareness and helping you step away from your thoughts. If you have depression you may find yourself struggling with negative thoughts.
Meditation can help you gain a little control over these, taking a step back and recognising the thoughts are coming from your depression, not you.
9. It can help improve your performance at work
Trying to tackle multiple tasks at once, being stressed and feeling overwhelmed at work are (unsurprisingly) not conducive to productivity. You’re more likely to forget things and ‘drop the ball’. Meditation can help you reduce stress and slow down your thinking. One study has even found that multitasking office workers who meditated had better performance and memory at work as well as improving their emotional state.
10. It helps you connect with yourself
When we’re constantly connected to the Internet or even others around us, we fail to take the time we need to connect with ourselves. Meditation can form a part of your self-care routine, helping you get in touch with your intuition, who you are and what you need from life. And that is invaluable.
As with any complementary or holistic approach, we always recommend seeing your doctor if you’re worried about a mental or physical health problem. It may be that meditation fits in as part of a more rounded treatment plan, or you find meditation alone is enough to help. You can work with a medical team to figure these details out.
Meditation is a wonderful tool that can help tackle problems as well as to stave them off and keep you mentally well. If you’re keen to learn more, why not search our events section to see if there are any meditation classes taking place near you?
Here at Therapy Directory we’re big believers in the power of self-awareness. Being in touch with your physical and mental needs is so important for maintaining well-being, allowing you to truly take care of yourself.
Saying this, it’s not always so easy. Our ‘culture of busy’ allows little time to slow down and listen to ourselves. And when we do get a spare hour or two, we tend to pick up our phones to scroll through social media or see what Netflix has to offer.
Of course sometimes, this is exactly what we need. But prioritising self-awareness activities will put us all in a better position to judge what we need, and what will best serve our well-being. Here are 10 self-awareness activities to get you started.
A simple notebook and pen can hold so much power. There are plenty of different journaling techniques out there to try, but if you’re new to the world of journaling, get started with some self-questioning and reflection. Ask yourself some big questions (am I happy? What do I want more/less of in my life?) or reflect on your day/week and what you’ve learnt.
This could be following a formal meditation or five minutes of quiet time. Just the act of settling down, taking some time to yourself and focusing on your breathing is beneficial. Mindfulness in particular can help you take a step back from your thoughts and become the observer, encouraging you to be more self-aware day to day.
3. Practice yoga (or other mindful movement)
Being aware of our physical body is equally important and this is something mindful movement can really help with. Practices like yoga or Tai Chi encourage us to slow down and listen to our body, nourishing it with gentle movement and energy balance.
Just like exercise and gentle movement nourishes our bodies, reading nourishes our minds. Any kind of reading is beneficial, but to make the most of the self-awareness element, try to be mindful. If you react a certain way to a storyline for example, try questioning why. If you’re keen to learn more about a topic, look for books about it to expand your knowledge and fuel your curiosity. Not sure what book to pick up? Take a look at the Therapy Directory team’s recommendations!
5. Create a mood board
For those of us driven by visuals, creating a mood board can be eye-opening. Get as creative as you want by cutting out pictures/words from magazines, draw/write/paint pieces and put it all together to help you delve into a topic deeper. This could be how you want your future to look, musings on your career or simply what kind of holiday you want to go on next!
Going for a walk, especially one in nature, offers us both physical and mental space. There’s something about being in an open space that frees up your thinking, so take advantage and use this time to listen to yourself.
7. Holistic therapy
Holistic therapies look at both body and mind as one. Seeing a professional therapist can be very helpful in understanding more about yourself. A reflexologist for example, may pick up on tension you’re holding in your neck, while a Reiki practitioner may have an insight into blocked energy.
Browse our therapy topics to see which approach speaks to you.
8. Have a solo hobby
Socialising and having mutual hobbies with partners are lovely ways to spend time, but having something separate that you can dedicate alone-time too can help you cultivate greater self-awareness. Find something that prompts you to fall into a state of flow (when time seems to fly) and indulge yourself regularly.
9. Ask why three times
This can be helpful when you’re grappling with a dilemma. Simply digging a little deeper and asking ‘why’ three times can often help you get to the root of things. A simplified example:
“I hate my job” – Why?
“Because I feel tired all day” – Why?
“Because the office is stuffy” – Why?
“Because we don’t open any windows and I don’t go outside” – There is your solution!
We rarely stop to look back at how far we’ve come, so it’s easy to feel unsatisfied. Taking the time to reflect and look back helps us understand ourselves better and builds confidence. Try adding ‘reflection dates’ into your calendar at the end of every month and use this time to reflect on the past month. What have you achieved? What have you learnt? What do you want to improve?
Originating from Buddhist meditation, mindfulness is a practice the West are embracing with open arms.
Numerous studies speak on the benefits to our mental and emotional health, helping us to slow down, ease anxiety and lower stress.
According to Therapy Directory member and holistic healer Hilda Kalap, mindfulness can help children calm down when upset, improve their ability to pay attention, help them regulate emotions and helps with better decision making.
Here are Hilda’s pointers for introducing mindfulness to your children:
1) Keep it simple – A good way to describe mindfulness, particularly for younger children – under seven – is noticing our thoughts, what our body feels like, what our ears are hearing and anything else around us that is happening right now.
2) Listen to a bell – Children can practise mindfulness by focusing on what they hear. Perhaps use a singing bowl, some chimes or another instrument. Tell your children that you will make the sound and they should listen to it attentively until they can no longer hear it. This tends to have a calming effect and also helps teach children to pay attention to what is happening around them.
3) Start a mindful walk – Stroll through the neighbourhood with your child and notice things you haven’t seen before. You could walk in silence for a minute and just pay attention to all the sounds you both hear – the birds, crickets, cars, motorcycles, voices and so on. This is mindfulness but you wouldn’t even realise it and it’s really fun to do.
For those who don’t know, mindfulness originates from a Buddhist meditation technique. The idea behind it is to focus on the present moment, becoming aware of your physical senses while letting thoughts drift past like leaves on a river.
Many studies have found it to be incredibly beneficial in reducing anxiety, stress and even supporting those with depression.
While to start with, it may be an idea to dedicate specific times and places to your mindfulness practice, once you have gotten used to the practice, you may want to try it in other situations.
Calling on this technique at any time is what makes it so powerful. Take a look below for some ideas of where to practise being mindful.
On your commute
If you get a bus or train to work, you may try desperately to fill your time with reading, music or podcasts. We are all for utilising this time, but why not mix things up a bit with some mindfulness practice every now and then?
Consider your five senses – what can you see, hear, smell, touch, taste? Public transport usually provides a plethora of things to see, so try and be mindful, taking in every detail. You can also use this time to check in with how you feel, physically and mentally. Observe your thoughts without any attempt to change them.
In the hairdressers
For us, getting our hair done is a lovely excuse to switch off from the world for a couple of hours. Some people love to chat, others use the time to catch up on emails – we say, try a little mindfulness. Notice how the water feels on your head, how the robe feels against your skin. Concentrate on your breathing and invite a little calm into your day.
On your morning run
Running can be a great way to practise mindfulness. Many runners praise their runs for helping them clear their minds and it’s easy to see why. When you’re running you’re focusing on the way you’re breathing, the way your body is moving and not much else.
Instead of running through your to-do list or ruminating on that argument you had with your partner in your head, focus on the present moment – the way your run makes you feel.
In your local cafe
If you’re alone in a cafe it can be tempting to reach for your phone or a book. We tend to use this as armour, to protect ourselves from appearing alone. Next time you find yourself in this situation, why don’t you try just observing? Observe the people around you, the way your coffee tastes and the thoughts entering and leaving your mind.
At your desk
Work may not seem an obvious place to practice mindfulness, but we promise it is one of the most beneficial places! If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, stressed or worried about an upcoming meeting, for example, try taking five minutes to just breathe and focus on what’s happening in that moment. Try not to let your mind wander to the past or stray into the future.
Check out our blogs on meditation to learn more about ways to still your mind.
Self-care is having a bit of a moment right now, and for good reason. In today’s busy society it can be easy to put ourselves last as we focus on work, providing for our family and looking out for others. While all of these things are important, they should not come ahead of looking after yourself.
Self-care means looking after your health and your needs. Below are a few self-care habits you should look to integrate into your routine.
We all know by now how important exercise is, but how many of us are getting the recommended amount? If your job involves sitting for long periods, try setting an alarm once an hour to encourage you to get up and move for a few minutes. You could take a walk to get a coffee, do some yoga stretches at your desk, or even walk outside.
Eat to nourish your body with the nutrients you need. This doesn’t mean giving up your favourite foods, it means eating more mindfully for your health and keeping treats in moderation.
Time away from social media and electronic devices can do wonders for your stress levels. Try taking a break for an hour or two a day and see how you feel.
Create a sleep routine
Getting your sleeping habits down is a great way to cultivate self-care. If you are well rested you will have more energy to take on the day’s challenges and will feel better in yourself overall.
This could tie-in with your unplugging time. Try meditation, or simple breathing exercises. This encourages mindfulness and has been shown to reduce stress.
What is your favourite thing to do? Whether it’s taking a long bubble bath, watching your favourite box-set or reading a good book, make time for it.
Try complementary therapy
Complementary therapies like reflexology, massage and Reiki aren’t just for when a problem arises. Having regular sessions can boost well-being, helping you become more aware of your body and mind’s needs.
We all need a little help sometimes. When this happens, don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help. Sometimes just calling a friend to talk is all that’s needed to make you feel better about a situation.
Celebrate the little wins
As well as recognising your bigger achievements, make sure you celebrate the little wins too. For example, if speaking in front of people makes you nervous and you speak up in a meeting – give yourself a pat on the back! Small wins add up to major changes over time.
What self-care habits do you cultivate? Let us know in the comments below!
When we have a lot going on in our lives, our minds can get incredibly busy. I often find myself thinking a million miles an hour and can almost feel my head buzzing with thoughts.
Sometimes I’ll be ruminating on something that happened earlier that day, other times I’ll be thinking about my to-do list for tomorrow. Either way, I’m never in the present when I have a busy mind.
Over the years I’ve tried several things to help slow my thinking, and I find the following particularly helpful.
An easy way to help your body and mind relax is to use breathing techniques. There are two in particular I like to use:
- Alternate nostril breathing. This is helps to balance your energies, bring you back to the present and calm both the body and mind. Using your left hand, cover your right nostril with your thumb, breathe in and out through your left nostril. Then cover your left nostril with your ring finger and breath in and out of your right. This is one round, you can repeat as many times as you feel necessary.
- Humming breath. Now, I may have made up the name for this, but the premise is simple. Breath in and out through your nose, but on the out breath, make a humming sound. This injection of noise can instantly bring you to the present moment and silences inner chatter.
Write it out
If I’m continuously thinking about something I will write it down to get it out of my head. This works particularly well for to-do lists! Recently my head was full of things I needed to do the next day at work. I was getting ready for bed and knew if I didn’t get it out of my head I would be up all night, so I quickly jotted my to-do list and put it in my work bag. Knowing that I had that list down helped me sleep much better.
Any exercise is great for getting you out of your head and into your body, but I personally opt for yoga when I need to calm my thinking. Yoga is about being present and combining your breath with your movements. This helps while I’m practicing and for at least a couple of hours after (I practice after work to help me wind-down for the evening).
A meditation I’ve recently started is a form of mindfulness where I simply observe my thoughts and when one pops in, I label it ‘thought’. I then let it dissipate and wait for the next one. After a while you can learn to enjoy the space between thoughts and the hope is that they eventually slow down and reduce.