Mindfulness has become incredibly popular in the West over recent years. The practice has its roots in Buddhism, where followers aim to improve self-knowledge and achieve ‘enlightenment’, or freedom from all suffering.
Although many people who now practice mindfulness are not followers of the Buddhist faith, many of the principles and goals of the practice remain unchanged. Although we might not expect to be free of all suffering, we can expect to cope with life’s troubles better, in a calmer and more rational way, without the clouding of worry or obsessing over the past. In a nutshell, mindfulness is the practice of bringing your attention to the present moment, without judging or trying to change anything.
Many forms of psychological therapy now incorporate mindfulness into their treatment plans, and no wonder – with our future-focused 21st century lives the present moment is often forgotten, and anxiety and depression rates are at an all-time-high.
The best thing about mindfulness is that you need absolutely nothing to try it out. No equipment, teacher or even a special seating position. Mindfulness can be practiced wherever and whenever you like, although you can still sit cross-legged in a candlelit room if you like! It’s very relaxing 🙂
That being said, it’s difficult to know where to start, and although I have been practicing mindfulness for two years now, some days I just need a helping hand or a specific focus for my practice. And that’s where YouTube really comes up trumps. There are hundreds of videos developed for almost any state of mind, so if you’re feeling anxious, down, stressed-out or basically anything else, these can be a really good port of call. And the best part is, once you’ve tried it a few times you can put some of the activities into practice all by yourself, wherever you are.
Here’s a list of ten videos, created by some wonderful YouTubers, who have given their time and energy to help others be more mindful. How lovely!
In no particular order:
Josh Wise provides a lovely voice to this video, and I really like his tone. There’s a very simple and calming backing track, too, which in no way distracts from the meditation, and at under 10 minutes long it’s perfect for winding down at any time and bringing you back to yourself. I find that at times of high anxiety or after a particularly stressful day, lying on my bed and listening to this can ground me and get me back on a present-centred track, allowing me to continue my evening calmly and rationally.
I love body scans. They’re a really great technique for getting you to hone in on every part of your body, even parts you probably haven’t thought of all day, and check in with how they feel right now. This lady has a calming, soft voice that carries you through the body scan slowly and fluidly. I don’t suffer from chronic pain myself, but I find this to be a wonderful meditation for coming back to my body and addressing any aches and pains the day has brought. Although I’m unable to comment on it’s effectiveness for chronic pain, commenters with the condition seemed to find it incredibly useful.
* Note: The video states it (although as a general disclaimer in relation to yoga rather than mindfulness) and I will too – this video is not a diagnostic tool or a cure for chronic pain.
This one is probably in my top three. There’s some beautiful piano/violin music at the beginning which gives way to silence when the meditation begins. The speaker really brings home the message that thoughts trigger the body’s emotional and physical responses, which can be an important fact to be reminded of during periods of negative thinking. I think what is so beautiful about this particular video is that he explains what anyone who has ever experienced depression can feel, and reminds the listener that they are not alone – ‘depression is a universal human experience’. It is difficult to put into words the emotions that this audio can stir, so please take your time and give yourself a break if needed with this one.
A very relaxing British accent with this one. Piano music gives way to a relaxing river/birds sound when the meditation begins. I find this excellent for when I’m feeling irrationally guilty or feel that I have done something bad/stupid/embarrassing. The video begins with a great calming breathing exercise which helps to slowly get you in the zone for your practice. You use your imagination here, visualising the scene being narrated to you. It’s only 15 minutes long but it isn’t rushed; all-in-all a very useful tool for waving away those useless feelings of guilt and shame.
Words cannot describe how much I love this man; every single one of his videos is a god send. Michael Sealey’s voice is so utterly relaxing that I can only use his channel at night, during times when I’m struggling to sleep. Before I took the plunge, the word ‘hypnosis’ in his video titles really freaked me out, but the essence of each video is noticing your present state and then taking yourself down (voluntarily) into a zone of complete relaxation. There’s no ‘look into my eyes’ or pocket-watch-following, and he explains his methods at the beginning. Although I don’t suffer from severe insomnia, I do have trouble sleeping at times, and to this day, I have yet to listen to one of Michael’s recordings and not have the best nights sleep ever.
Mindfulness meditation has helped me through some very difficult times, and it only gets better with practice. I hope you will try it too, and find some well-deserved peace in your present moment.