Often seen as a ‘geeky’ pastime, trainspotting can actually work well as a mindfulness technique. The process of noting down each train’s number or ticking it off in a data book is actually very therapeutic, it can provide you with that satisfying feeling of completing a goal and helps to focus your mind which in turn relieves stress. There are also great benefits to being in the great outdoors with the opportunity to go ‘off grid’ without a phone or internet connection – the beauty of trainspotting is all you need is a pen and paper.
Taking up bird-watching doesn’t have to involve expensive equipment – you can experience the mindfulness benefits in your very own garden or local park. Engaging with the nature around you is free and can make a huge difference to your day-to-day. Just taking a few minutes out of your day to watch the birds, focusing on their movements and interactions can be a great opportunity to focus your busy mind on the present.
Transforming a ball of clay into something of your own creation can give you a great sense of accomplishment and calm. The concentration necessary to produce your own work of art helps to centre your mind which has the added benefit of allowing stressful thoughts to drift away. It doesn’t even matter if you’re not artistic, just the process of connecting your mind with your body is enough to produce a sense of wellbeing.
The rhythmic nature of knitting (knit one, purl one, knit one, purl one) is repetitive, therapeutic, calming and comforting and it can be used almost in a meditative manner to have a positive impact on the mind and wellbeing. Knitting leaves you with a ‘happy’ feeling as you’ve accomplished something, felt relaxed, stress-free and creative all at the same time. The state of concentration and complete absorption that knitting provides allows the knitter to forget about everything else going on around them.
This takes us back to being a child again – that feeling of being self-absorbed in play and creation, with bright colours sparking the imagination to create anything we desire. Children do not worry about the past or the future as they are self-absorbed in the present, building with Lego allows us to mirror this and absorb ourselves in the present, allowing us to create anything our imagination allows us to. We forget about everything around us and create a world of fun and invention.
Words: Dr Saima Latif