You’ve probably noticed the word mindfulness seems to be popping up in all different places these days. Mindful Eating, Mindfulness Training courses, Mindful Business, Mindful Movement. What is it all about you might think, so today I’m hoping to bring more clarity to what it is and how it can help you in you everyday life.
I am often asked if Mindfulness is the same as meditation: the answer is no, but it has many of the same benefits, plus many more that meditation doesn’t. Mindfulness is for anyone who wants to improve their life, and all sorts of people practise Mindfulness, from children, nurses/doctors, business tycoons, motor mechanics, hairdressers, mums, dads, teenagers, pensioners.
You don’t have to do yoga, be a hippy, be spiritual or religious to practise it, and you don’t have to sit crossed-legged or be in a quiet place to do it either. In fact, you can do it pretty much anywhere as you go about your daily business.
What is Mindfulness?
I call it my PJs! Three Ps and a J. So whatever task you are doing, even if just sitting, it’s Paying attention on Purpose in the Present moment without being Judgemental.
Paying attention is key to mindfulness. Often we think we are paying attention, but really our mind has wandered off onto work, an earlier conversation, what to have for tea etc. This is what our minds do. But some of this wandering can create anxiety as we fret about the future or have regrets about the past. When we are more mindful, paying attention on purpose, we can choose where our attention goes.
Being Present – If our attention is constantly in the past or future then it means that we are not really here now, living in this present moment. That’s a lot of life you are missing! So mindfulness trains you to live in the now, right now! People often say they find this difficult as thoughts pull them in different directions. Recognise that thoughts are just like watching cars going past – you don’t have to stop each one and jump in! Maybe you like to sit in your favourite café – next time you do, really pay attention to your drink: the aroma, the temperature of the cup in your hands, the taste… If you do this with food too – really notice the flavours, the texture, eat slowly, savour every bite – you will enjoy it more, eat less and probably lose weight too!
Non-judgmental – when we are non-judgmental and let things be as they are (good or bad), we can let go of all the emotional strain. When we have a negative emotion to a thought, it closes down the possibilities to be open-hearted, both to ourselves and the world around us. What is the point in berating yourself about something you said or did in the past? The should haves, the could haves – they are gone, so let go of judgement and you will feel more contented.
Here are 10 ways that Mindfulness will help you:
- Mindfulness will teach you that your thoughts are just that, thoughts. They are not real life, they are just mental activities in your mind that you are noticing. You will learn to be aware of them without immersing yourself into them.
- You will learn how to respond (rather than react) to thoughts and situations. This means no more jumping in thinking the worst possible scenario – often we worry about something that hasn’t even happened, it’s just something we’ve imagined in our heads that’s not even true!
- It will help you to be more focused and alert.
- Research shows it is great for managing chronic pain.
- Mindfulness gives you a greater understanding and awareness of your own mind.
- You will have fewer negative thoughts and learn how to let them go more easily.
- It will help you realise your potential and reach personal goals, thereby gaining more confidence.
- It will Improve communication and you’ll have better relationships with your family, friends and work colleagues.
- You’ll experience improved well-being and happiness, and feel more satisfied with life.
- It will help you to manage your emotions more effectively and efficiently, including fear, sadness, anger, frustration, low self-worth, bitterness etc.
If you’d like to introduce Mindfulness into your life, I run a ‘Movement and Mindfulness’ class in Gunthorpe on a Thursday morning and you can try your first class for free – please get in touch.