The Practice of Mindfulness is very simple, you stop, you breath and still your mind.
You come home to yourself so that you can enjoy the here and now in every moment.
Thich Nhat Hanh
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the art of staying in the moment. Most of us spend much of our time focused either on the past or future and pay very little attention to what is happening in the present. This means that for much of the time we may be unaware of much of our experience. Mindfulness is the practice of spending more time being present to our surroundings and ourselves. Not trying to change things but trying instead to accept the way things are for the better or worse. It is about observation without criticism; being compassionate with yourself.
It is not relaxation but a form of meditation based on the practice of observation and focus on the breath. It is based in Buddhist philosophy however it is not a religion.
Mindfulness based practice was developed by American Psychologist Jon Kabat Zin to help people manage a wide range of problems including chronic pain, cancer, stress and depression.
A typical meditation consists of focusing your full attention on your breath as it flows in and out of your body. Focusing on each breath in this way allows you to observe your thoughts as they arise in your mind and little by little, to let go of struggling with them. You come to realise that thoughts come and go of their own accord; that you are not your thoughts.
You can watch them as they appear in your mind, seemingly from thin air and watch them again as they disappear like a soap bubble bursting. Sometimes the use of images is helpful, over time you can begin to see your thoughts and feelings are transient. They come and go and you have the choice whether to act on them.
Mindfulness allows you to catch negative thought patterns before they tip you into a downward spiral. It begins the process of putting you back in control of your life.
Over time it can bring long-term changes in mood and levels of happiness and well-being. Scientific studies have shown that mindfulness not only prevents depression, but it also positively affects brain patterns underlying day to day anxiety, stress, depression and irritability so that when they arise, they dissolve away again more easily. Other studies have shown that regular meditators see their doctors less often, memory improves, creativity is enhanced and self esteem increases.
Mindfulness practice does not take a lot of time, although patience, practice and persistence are required! It is not about success or failure, even when it feels difficult you are learning something about the workings of your mind and thus you will benefit.
There are a number of resources for Mindfulness Practice. These include Apps for you phone, downloads from the Internet, CD’s to learn and practice meditation and books to learn and understand Mindfulness. Some of these have free CD’s included.