What is mindfulness?
The concept of mindfulness is over 2500 years old, but it’s just as relevant in the world we live in today. It gives us the opportunity to recognise what we’re thinking and how we’re feeling, but without getting caught up in the commentary about what caused it. So if you tend to think about ‘what if’ and ‘if only’, mindfulness can help you manage the fears and frustrations those thoughts can create.
Mindfulness is giving your focused awareness to the present moment, whatever that looks like. Whether you’re walking, in a meeting or having a cup of tea, you can use the experience to keep yourself in the here and how. It’s immersing yourself in whatever you’re doing, but without judging how it should or shouldn’t be. Just as you wouldn’t analyse or try to change a beautiful sunset, mindfulness acknowledges the what but without getting caught up in the why.
In western society, we often find it hard to be kind to ourselves. You might feel lazy or guilty if you stop to unwind. You might beat yourself up if you make a mistake, or because you feel you’re not measuring up in some area of your life. Perhaps you lash out at people, or hide yourself away when you’re going through a difficult time. We weren’t born judging ourselves or behaving like this, but these patterns can develop over time.
Mindfulness includes learning about kindness, compassion and non-judgement towards yourself and others. Instead of pushing experiences away and then reacting out of habit, mindfulness invites you to notice what’s happening, so that you may learn to control how you behave when things are difficult.
When we feel stressed, our immune system can be impacted. You might notice if you push yourself too far or spread yourself too thinly, you become unwell the minute you take a holiday. This is why rest and relaxation are so important – especially for busy people; Mindfulness can be a useful – and not-too-time consuming – approach to coping.
Are mindfulness and meditation the same?
Mindfulness is the act of being aware, meditation is the act of being mindful. So when we think of meditation we might think of someone sitting with their eyes closed, whereas mindfulness can be practised pretty much anywhere and with your eyes open. There are many ways of practising both though; a teacher can help you with this.
What are the benefits?
There is more research than ever on mindfulness and meditation. The benefits include being a proven technique for:
- Effective relaxation
- Reducing stress and improving mental health
- Managing pain
- Improving the immune system
- Better sleep and reducing insomnia
- Enhanced concentration
- Lowering blood pressure, and much more
Where and how long do I need to do it?
Mindfulness can be practiced anywhere: at home, at work, on the bus, in the doctor’s surgery, even in the dentist’s chair. You can practice for one minute a day if you like, although you’ll see the benefits sooner if you manage a bit longer each time.
Is Mindfulness a religion?
No, Mindfulness is a way of life. It’s something you can introduce in to your daily living whether you follow a particular faith or not.
The teachings that refer to mindfulness are over 2,500 years old and based on the discourse of someone known as the original Buddha. Whilst Buddhism is seen by some as a religion around the world today, the intention behind the teachings was to help people find peace amongst their suffering and live a more peaceful life. You don’t have to be Buddhist to practise mindfulness.
Is it like being in a trance?
Mindfulness is about being aware, so if being in a trance means being outside of awareness, then mindfulness is the opposite. It’s more like Mind Management. Mindfulness is a technique which can help you manage unhelpful thinking and live a more peaceful life.
The strategies used help you notice your unhelpful thinking before it becomes a problem, or challenge it helpfully if it does. You are in control of what you’re doing when you’re being mindful, that’s one of the things which makes it mindfulness.
You might like this article – Mindfulness: It’s The Thought That Counts
Why isn’t everyone doing it?
The most common reason people tell me they give up on mindfulness and meditation is because they think they’re doing it wrong. If you’re new to the technique, have tried it but struggled with it, or want some guidance on how best to start, you could book a 1-1 session with me or join one of my classes. (There’s a form to get in touch below).
Is this a solution for everyone?
Meditation has been proven to help people feel calm, and manage mild to moderate stress, depression and anxiety.
There may be times when meditation feels like the last thing on your mind. This is when applying a mindfulness activity – like noticing the birds singing, or recognising how many colours you can see on a walk – can be a more helpful way to manage the mind than trying to sit and meditate.
If you have suffered trauma, or have a severe and enduring mental illness you may wish to speak to your healthcare team before trying a mindfulness or meditation activity.
Where do I go from here?
There are many ways you can find out more about mindfulness, including apps and books on the subject. I offer 1-1 and group sessions as well as training for organisations in mindful leadership. For details of next workshops and classes, or to book a 1-1 or corporate event get in touch using the form below.
What do people say about my classes? See image below.
Delphi, Thank you for listening to me, your calmness, your empathy and the techniques you taught me to help with my anxiety. They have been invaluable and I will continue to use them. Thank you for helping me find my sparkle. ~ Debbie.
© Copyright Delphi Ellis 2017-20