What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is all about living in the present moment. The aim is to learn how to approach life in a much more relaxed state of awareness, observing both the outer world which is out of your control, and the inner world of thoughts and feelings. Possessing mindfulness skills have been shown to be highly effective in reducing stress, with the added bonus of improving your ability to be creative.
Mindfulness is an increased capability to handle the difficulties that life sometimes throws at us, creating benefits such as:
* great energy and enthusiasm
* a larger capacity for relaxation
* more self-confidence
* a new found strength to be able to cope with stressful situations
How does it work?
The mind is known to be a key factor in stress, and disorders connected with stress, and practising mindfulness cultivates greater awareness of the unity of body and mind, as well as making you aware of those unconscious behaviours and thoughts that do not serve you, and in fact can undermine your emotional and physical health.
By practicing mindfulness, the individual can be fully awake and present in each moment, and accept things without judgment or resentment. You will approach day-to-day life seeing things in a different light and can begin to undo all the stresses and knots of tension that have been hampering you. You will be able to:
* Tell the difference between subjective thoughts from objective facts
* Heighten your emotional alertness
* Learn to listen more attentively
* Control and direct your thoughts more appropriately
* Enjoy and appreciate the here-and-now.
How to practice this technique:
Mindfulness is basically about slowing down. It is like making a meditation on the body. For instance, if you feel anxious, take a long deep breath, and be mindful of this – do it consciously.
1. Be aware of your body as soon as you wake up. Listen to your heartbeat. What are you thinking when you wake up? A shower, or eating breakfast, can have a totally new perspective if you are mindful of these activities.
2. Choose a couple of meals every week where you eat with no distractions – stay tuned on and concentrate on the taste and textures of the meal. If you drive to work every day with the radio as background noise, consider driving in silence.
3. Before you pick up the phone, or enter a meeting, collect your thoughts, check your breathing, and be aware totally of the act of experiencing that moment.
4. Connect with nature – when out for a walk, forget the headphones and telephone – totally connect with the sound of the air, the rustle of the leaves, the birdsong around you, and connect with your body and breath.
5. Many people combine exercise with meditation. While jogging, for example, try not to think about what is going to happen when you get back – focus solely on the action you are making, be aware of the various sensations of your body, such as your muscles moving.
Mindfulness can be a useful and easy tool to use – it can slot in to any busy schedule on a daily basis. Aim for 20 mintues a day if you can.