Mindfulness, meditation and yoga: a mind-opening journey

Health Adviser at Bupa UK
05 January 2017

Mindfulness, meditation and yoga are all familiar practices in the health and wellbeing space. Mindfulness in particular has been getting a lot more attention recently, with more people trying it out and using things like online mindfulness resources.

In this blog we hear from Megan Sullivan, a Bupa Health Adviser. Megan tells us about her experiences of mindfulness, mindful meditation and yoga, and how they have led her on what she describes as a ‘mind-opening journey’.

A woman on a rocky beach laughing

Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a state of being conscious or aware of what is happening in your mind, body and around you in the present moment. It’s about focusing in on exactly what is happening in the now.

I first started practising mindfulness about six months ago, when I decided to do an online course. I wanted to complete the course in order to offer more sound advice to my customers when they discussed stress with me. But what I didn’t realise is that it would also influence my own life. I now try to be as present as possible, living in the now rather than worrying about what has happened in the past or what could happen in the future.

Focusing in on the present moment, I feel, has helped me to become less stressed and more productive. This is because I feel as if I can accomplish so much more by taking things one moment at a time. 

A man lays on his back with city lights in the distance behind him

Mindful meditation

Sitting meditation is a formal mindful meditation practice. It involves finding a time and space to stop, sit and observe your thoughts, feelings and body sensations.

To begin with, I started meditating in two-minute sessions, but have slowly built this up. I now meditate for ten minutes most days (usually at night before I go to bed) and I have been doing this for the past three months.

I had previously dipped my toe into mindful meditation, but did not feel that it was very accessible to me, nor did I fully understand the benefits that I gained from it. It is only recently that I feel mindful meditation has been explained in a simple way, which has made it more accessible. 

Mindful meditation is now part of my daily routine. I feel that it has provided me with more mental space, because it gives me time to notice my thoughts but not attach any emotions to them. I observe and am aware of them, but then let them pass – like the clouds pass through the sky. I also feel that it has helped to calm my mind and quiet it at times.

Often my meditation practice will have a mantra that I repeat. This helps to focus my mind from all the thoughts that fly through it when I sit down to meditate. This mantra could be anything from ‘I am grateful’ to ‘I am energised’,  and will depend purely on my state of mind at the time or how I have felt about the day. 

Man listening to music

Yoga

Yoga practice brings your mind and body together, with the intention of boosting your physical and mental wellbeing. It involves coordinating breathing, movement and meditation.

Doing yoga is my time to completely zone out. When I do it, I focus on my breathing and what my body is doing as I flow through the movements. It makes me feel calm yet energised. As I progress in certain poses I feel as if I am accomplishing something and getting to know my body more.

Since practising yoga, I have managed to learn quite a few asanas (yoga postures and positions). I now listen to what my body needs and how it feels and will create my own flow routines using movements called sun salutations to link a series of poses together.

I feel that yoga has helped my muscles to become strong and long. But it is the affect on my mind that is most significant to me – above all, yoga gives me time in my own mind and for myself. 

Man doing yoga

If you’ve been inspired by Megan’s story and want to find out more about mindfulness, take a look at the following blogs from Bupa Mindfulness Expert Dr Meera Joshi:


Or if it’s some yoga inspiration you’re looking for, check out our morning yoga routine and chair yoga routine (for something a little bit different!)

Megan Sullivan
Health Adviser at Bupa UK

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