Most of us have heard of Mindfulness although we may not have a good understanding of what it is about.
Here we will dispel some myths and set out the benefits and uses of mindfulness – some of which may surprise you.
Firstly, let’s start with some of the things that mindfulness is not.
Mindfulness is not ‘therapy’.
There is no religious affiliation, mindfulness is totally non-sectarian.
Mindfulness does not mean emptying the mind of all thoughts.
Mindfulness does not need a special place to be practised, it can be practiced anywhere.
So, why should you consider mindfulness in your life?
Well, mindfulness is about consciously directing our attention to the present moment.
It is about awareness and one of its first objectives is self-discovery without judgment.
Lets’ go back a step.
In our normal daily lives, we generally function on autopilot.
Have you ever driven to the shops and not remembered a single detail about getting there before parking?
Sat down for a much-needed cup of tea and suddenly realized you are holding an empty cup?
Many of us are thinking about what we need to do next, what food we will eat this evening, when we can leave work, what the children are doing –a hundred zillion thoughts whirl around our heads at once
All these meansour lives can be stressful, and relaxation is rare.
We watch TV but are also thinking about the next day, or something that is worrying us.
Our lives are crowded and we cope with this in part by carrying out many tasks without thinking.
We are unaware of any associated thoughts or actions.
As a result,many people find they have a short attention span and we are flicking through thought channels, reading Facebook, whilst walking to work, thinking about the tasks of the day and unaware of our surroundings.
We go about our chores without any awareness.
We also tend to worry or fret about several things at once and we accept that life is full of stress.
But you do not have to escape to a wild and lonely place to practice mindfulness.
Mindfulness is about bringing awareness to the present moment.
Research consistently shows that mindfulness is an important predictor of wellbeing.
Those who practice it experience higher levels of life satisfaction, greater life autonomy and competence, have more positive mindsets and are more resilient.
In other words, their coping skills are improved.
There is also a growing body of research noting that mindfulness is associated with lower levels of anxiety and depression and increased self-esteem and energy.
By contrast to a full-on stressful life on autopilot, mindfulness lets us develop conscious awareness of our thoughts, feelings, and surroundings without ever judging the experience.
By doing this we learn more about the thoughts and feelings that trigger enjoyment and those thoughts which trigger negative reactions and stress.
Mindfulness helps to enhance our perceptions, thinking, and awareness.
A key benefit, therefore, is resilience. It helps to calm our minds and our nerves and enables us to examine our inner world.
In this way it is about knowing your own mind or ‘what makes you tick’ –something so many of us lack or which lies deeply buried.
Briefly, mindfulness shows us many benefits and in later posts, we will delve further into this topic.
There is much to discover and I will help you understand why this journey could be one of the most positive steps to take back your life and free yourself from negative opinions, thoughts and behaviors.