Mindfulness is all about paying attention to the present moment in a non-judgemental way. It is accepting what is, the reality of who you are, where you are, how you feel and everything else. This is not always a comfortable process and not always done when surrounded by singing birds in a beautiful setting. By this I mean that sometimes we need to be mindful and present when we are experiencing feelings we would normally supress or situations we would try to avoid.
Stop what you are doing now and just focus your attention on what is around you. Five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell and one thing you can taste. Keep the mind focused on these things without any judgement of them or yourself. If you feel the mind racing away with something else bring it back to your surroundings.
Mindfulness can be that easy and done throughout the day in various settings. Try it while brushing your teeth or eating a meal or while listening to someone speak. Just focus on the here and now.
The most important thing is that you can start practicing this today. Mindfulness is a daily practice, more like a lifestyle, a different way of thinking. It is not something you should only be using if you are feeling stressed for example. If you start practicing this while you are feeling great, then it is easier to keep the practice up when things are maybe feeling out of control.
Mindfulness, I believe can be a skill for all and can help everyone. It may be something you do quite naturally in certain situations already. There are a few different areas of mindfulness, from attention training such as the exercise above, to breath awareness, using visualisation meditations and speaking and listening mindfully with another, each with varying benefits. Research on mindfulness has shown (there are a couple of resources below if you want to find out more) an improvement in attention, cognitive performance, body awareness, reduced stress and anxiety, more compassion, better emotion regulation and behaviour.
Don’t forget though that sometimes a little stress is good, as is a little worry or mindlessness. It is perfectly normal to feel a bit stressed and anxious about an important event, job interview or meeting. It is perfectly normal to want to be mindless and allow yourself to day dream sometimes. It is all about balance as with most things in life.
Articles / books / websites –
Full Catastrophe Living – Jon Kabat-Zinn 1990
Mindfulness Training Improves Working Memory Capacity and GRE Performance While Reducing Mind Wandering – Mrazek, et al. 2013
Chill your beans courses and classes are fun, practical ways to learn skills to improve your wellbeing for children and adults too. The next children’s course for age 4 through to 13 starts 31st October and the next adult course starts 12th November. See chill-you-beans.co.uk for all event information.