Mindfulness or the idea of being mindful, has been around for a long time but there are still a lot of misconceptions about it. A belief that it’s about emptying your mind or you need to be Buddhist or reach some special spiritual plain…
First things first, you don’t need to be anyone special to practice mindfulness, you just need to be prepared to try something new.
Is your mind constantly busy? Do you arrive at a destination not sure how you got there? Do you find yourself ruminating on your past and/or procrastinating about your future?
If I asked you how many things you’re doing right now, I’m imagining it’s more than one! For starters you’re breathing and reading this! But many of you will have the TV on in the background, may be entertaining your children or perhaps even be cooking or doing another task.
What if I asked you to stop and… just breath… could you do that for a few moments? Really focus on the cool air moving in and out of your nostrils, moving into your lungs, making your stomach rise and fall.
How was that? Did you even do it?
While there are specific ways the practice mindfulness, being mindful is about more than the practice itself. It’s not about doing something separate from our lives, we can live mindfully. By living more, in the the moment, it means we can be more content with what is rather than what might have been in the past or what might be in the future.
Try these mindful activities:
You can choose to do one activity at a time, all the time. Are you someone who scrolls on your phone while watching TV? How would it be to give your full attention to the TV programme? This would mean really noticing everything that was going on, not just what they’re saying but how you’re feeling and the thoughts you’re having. If you’re bored, that’s ok, stick with it, don’t judge it as bad or wrong. Mindfulness is not about pushing everything out of your brain (that’s what the phone was doing!). It’s about being fully present in the activity that you’re choosing to do.
I’m not judging you for multitasking, society dictates that productivity equals validation. But by multitasking with aren’t fully present are cannot fully experience anything with any satisfaction.
Our minds often drift into the past or the future to ruminate or worry. But time travelling in this way doesn’t change what’s happened or what is to come.
By being fully present with each activity we start to experience the world and ourselves again!
Research has shown that mindfulness can be useful for anxiety, depression and stress, please see here: NHS. But it can help anyone who may be looking for a sense of calm, contentment or an attitude of acceptance.
If you’re interested in working with a counsellor who can incorporate mindfulness into the work or would like to know more, please contact me here.