Mindfulness is a simple technique that is difficult to describe in a few words. In this section I have given you a flavour as to what mindfulness is all about and why you may decide to give it a go. I have considered the following areas: living mindfully, what is mindfulness, practising mindfulness, the benefits of mindfulness and who it may help. Please take your time to digest the information.
Mindfulness is …to live life as if each moment is important, as if each moment counted and could be worked with, even if it is a moment of pain, sadness or fear.Jon Kabat-Zinn
Today we live in a world of distraction and can often find ourselves physically present but mentally absent. Over the last 20 years there has been a dramatic rise in the interest of mindfulness and research has shown that mindfulness can support our mental health by training us to live in the present. Living mindfully means living in the present moment.
Living mindfully is about being awake and aware and living in the present rather than dwelling on the past or worrying about the future.
When our concentration drifts we can easily become preoccupied with our thoughts about the past and the future; at times of difficulty this can increase our levels of stress, anxiety and low mood.
So what is mindfulness?
Mindfulness offers a of training technique for your brain in the same way as the gym offers a training opportunity for your body. Mindfulness is a form of meditation. There are both formal and informal meditation practices as part of the tool kit.
The practices offer a space where you can develop your ability to be aware of the present moment. The practices also give you the opportunity to cultivate innate human qualities such as kindness, compassion, patience, and acceptance. A central element to the material is becoming aware of how judgemental we can be about ourselves and others.
Practising mindfulness can therefore have a radical effect on how we experience the present moment.
Contrary to popular belief practising mindfulness does not need to involve beautiful beaches, linen clothes, silence, money or hours of free time. In fact it can be practised anywhere, at anytime, by anybody and all that is required is your attention and your willingness to give it a go.
What are the benefits of practising mindfulness?
Mindfulness enables us to take more pleasure in the good things in life and deal more effectively with difficulties. In time we become able to notice moments of joy even within the midst of difficulty. Mindfulness helps us to build resilience.
People who have developed a daily mindfulness practice often report that they experience:
- Greater clarity with an increased ability to respond to life rather than react.
- Improved awareness of pleasant events and a higher level of gratitude.
- Improved memory and the ability to think creatively.
- Improved ability to cope more effectively with both short and long-term stressful situations.
- An increased ability to relax and experience calm.
- Greater levels of energy and enthusiasm for life.
- Improved self-confidence and more acceptance of life as it is today.
- Better sleep patterns and fewer physical symptoms of stress.
Irrespective of our age, occupation or nationality mindfulness can be be helpful.
Who is Mindfulness for?
Interest in mindfulness has grown dramatically over the last 20 years especially as research is confirming its wide ranging benefits. Today mindfulness is being offered throughout society: within the areas of health and at all levels of education, within the justice service and business as well as in the sporting world.
If you have a mental health condition then please ask your health professionals whether or not mindfulness would be beneficial for you at this time.
Mindfulness Practice is not……..
- Mindfulness practice takes time and regular commitment it is not a quick “fix”.
- Mindfulness practice is not about relaxation, although this can also be experienced.
- Mindfulness practice is not about getting into a particular mental state it is about developing awareness of the present moment.
- Mindfulness practice is not a therapy. With curiosity and interest we are encouraged to investigate how we are emotionally, mentally and physically.
- Mindfulness is not a religion. People have been practising mindfulness for thousands of years, whether on its own or as part of a larger tradition. Practising mindfulness does not require you to give up your religious faith if you have one.
Mindfulness Meditation offers you a time of stillness where you can notice your thoughts, emotions and bodily sensations which in the normal hurry of life you may be unaware of. Letting go of judgement, sitting with patience and allowing your experience to unfold moment by moment, allowing yourself to be just as you are.
The benefits of mindfulness cannot be experienced by just reading about it just as you cannot learn to swim by reading a book; you have to get into the pool. Deep Breath is part of a thriving network of people committed to exploring mindfulness and how it might benefit their lives. Do join us.