Mindfulness, with Lillian Mirsafavi
Written by Cambrooke
5 minute read
I’m Lillian, a yoga, meditation and mindfulness teacher. I attended my first yoga class in my early 20s and fell in love with the practice. Yoga is not just about making shapes with our bodies, it’s about linking movement to breath, being in the present moment and taking time at the end of each class to deeply relax the body and mind. I became hooked on how I felt after each class and started to practice regularly, in studios and also at home via YouTube.
I studied law at university and trained as a corporate lawyer, during this time my yoga classes became my favourite part of each day and helped me to deal with the stresses of a corporate career. These days I’m a full-time yoga and meditation teacher. I teach adults, kids and teens how to use yoga to feel calmer, more centred and to take the techniques learned in a yoga class off of the yoga mat and into daily life.
Introduction to ‘Mindfulness’
Mindfulness is a bit of a “buzzword” these days. It can seem like a big topic to approach, maybe it seems like another thing to add to your already busy life or something that you don’t have time for? Mindfulness is actually really simple. It just means being fully present in each moment, and even five minutes a day will make a huge difference to your physical, mental and emotional well-being.
It’s especially important to practice mindfulness when managing your own health or caring for others. The busier life is, the more important it is to take small moments through the day to pause. We speed up by slowing down and by taking moments throughout the day to take stock and check in with how we are feeling. Mindfulness helps us to feel fully present in the moment, rather than thinking about the past or worrying about the future and today’s to-do list.
Morning Mindfulness – 5 minutes
This can be done before getting out of bed, or once you have made a cup of tea. Take a nice notebook, turn to a blank page, grab a pen and write! Journaling is an amazing way to start the morning and taking just five minutes before checking your phone or before family members are up really sets the day off in a positive way. You can “free write” whatever comes to mind, writing out thoughts and worries so that these are left on the page before you start your day.
Another quick and easy way to journal is by writing three things you are grateful for. Practicing gratitude can sometimes feel difficult when life is stressful but reminding yourself of the positives (food in the fridge, a warm home, happy memories with loved ones) can help to keep things in perspective and set you up for a great day.
The journal is just for you, you don’t have to show it to anyone so write away!
Lunchtime Mindfulness – 5 minutes
Five senses check-in.
This can be done while sitting at your desk, sitting in a quiet space or while walking.
Start with sight, notice five things you can see, focus on each one by one. Then notice five sounds, even if you think there is “silence” pick out five different sounds from it. Listen out for a barking dog, a dripping tap. Then notice any smells. What are they? What associations do they bring? Notice the taste on your tongue. Lastly, feel your clothes against your skin, feel the surface you are sitting, standing or walking on. Tune into each sense one by one and really connect with the information you are receiving.
This practice is a really nice way of getting back into our bodies and reconnecting with our senses, especially when we feel overwhelmed and not fully present in the middle of a busy day.
Evening Mindfulness – 5 minutes
Belly breathing is an amazing way to destress the body and prepare for a good night’s sleep. Throughout the day we tend to breath only into our upper chests and our breath can become shallow and constricted during times of stress.
Lie on your back (this can be done in bed or lying on a yoga mat or soft surface), placing your right hand on your belly and your left hand on your heart. Breathe deeply in through your nose, feeling your belly rising up to the ceiling. Pause for a moment and then slowly breath out through the mouth, feeling the belly softly falling. Try to breathe in for a count of four, and out for a count of four.
Practice belly breathing for two minutes, increasing to five minutes as your body becomes more comfortable breathing in this way.
Five minutes is enough to feel the benefits. Five minutes of deep breathing, quiet meditation or gentle stretching will make a huge difference to your day.
Mindfulness can be done during your usual daily activities. Preparing food, eating, walking and even cleaning the house can all be done mindfully when you fully focus on the activity in hand.
Team up with a friend and keep one another accountable. Try doing an online yoga class together or going on a mindful walk (leaving your phones at home or on silent) and really tuning in to everything around you.
There are some great apps which feature breathing techniques and guided meditations that can be done anywhere, even on public transport!
Mindfulness can be practiced by the whole family, children as young as four can be taught mindfulness and breathing techniques.
I hope these tips and techniques will enhance your mindfulness each day.