‘bringing ones complete attention to the present experience on a moment to moment basis’
– Jon Kabat Zinn
The term mindfulness is often linked with the idea of meditation. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but mindfulness is actually a worthwhile activity in and of itself. You don’t have to meditate to be mindful.
We live in a very stressful world. Work pressures, money worries, family problems, not to mention being time poor, can often get the better of us. We end up living on autopilot. And thinking about adding another thing to our ‘to do’ list is just not what we are looking for. The great thing about mindfulness is that, whilst it’s wonderful if you can set aside some time, it’s not essential. You can practice mindfulness while you are going about your daily activities – cleaning your teeth, waiting for the bus, chopping vegetables for dinner.
Benefits of Mindfulness
Mindfulness can help manage and reduce a whole host of negative reactions and thought processes:
- you will become less ‘reactive’ to situations, bringing a sense of calm and stillness to your everyday life
- your stress and anxiety levels will be reduced as you learn to better direct and manage your thought processes
- clear thinking will be become easier, allowing you to address problems more effectively
- improved memory and attention
- increased creativity
- your sense of wellbeing will increase, as you are better able to manage the negative emotions that sometimes get the better of all of us
- studies have shown that mindfulness can assist in managing addictions and eating disorders
How to practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness isn’t about emptying your head. It is about anchoring yourself in the present by turning your attention to your breathing, body and senses.
- Focus – on your senses – be aware of what you can see, hear, smell and feel.
- Concentrate – on what you are doing. Be aware of where your body is and how it is moving. For instance, if you are making dinner, concentrate on the placement of the knife when you are chopping, the swirl of the spoon when you are stirring.
- Judgement – don’t pass judgement on anything. Be aware things are there, but don’t let them impact you
- Breathe – be aware of your breathing. How does it feel and sound? Is it fast or slow, deep or shallow? But don’t try and change it. Just be aware
How to get started
- If you can identify part of the day where your mind tends to wander to anxiety causing or negative thoughts you have found the perfect time to start
- Start small. It takes time and practice to get the hang of mindfulness, so take baby steps
- Practice daily – little and often. Just like when you first start a new exercise routine. After all, the mind is a muscle too
- Don’t worry or get frustrated if your thoughts wander. Take a deep breath and gently direct your mind back to where you want it to be
- As you get used to the practice, try including it in other parts of your day. You will quickly begin to get a feel for the right time and quantity of mindfulness for you
If you would like to talk about mindfulness, give our Baulkham Hills clinic a call on 9639 7337.