Have you ever felt a bit low, maybe upset about what someone said to you or perhaps anxious or stressed about a deadline or a meeting in a few days’ time? Possibly you’ve found your thoughts running out of control or you worry a lot. Maybe you are in pain, or experiencing emotional instability. Mindfulness may help in all these situations. So what does it mean to be mindful?
It is always said that mind your manners or mind your tongue. This usually meant that one should be aware of what they were doing or saying and how it was affecting other people. That’s not a bad start, mindfulness certainly is about paying attention. Paying attention to what is happening right now, right before our eyes and ears and noses and other senses, including our internal ones. Mindfulness is the process of cultivating awareness of everyday happenings and physiological and psychological sensations.
What pains and tensions are there in your body, how you are feeling right now, are you aware of what are you thinking or you’re on automatic, daydreaming, or perhaps going over and over a difficult encounter? Many of the problems mentioned above relate to the future or the past. Anxiety and stress can result from worrying about future events. Depression is often associated with replaying past events in our mind. We go over past events or are anxious about the future. Much of our thinking is not in the present, and the present is the only time we‘ve got. By moving our life more into the present moment, we relate to the past and the future in a different way and our habitual unhelpful thinking about past and future events drops away, becomes less insistent, and we find right here, right now a more vibrant and alive place to be.
Practicing mindfulness helps one regain a lot of the energy spent fighting off sadness and anger, it makes our mind much clearer. Tuning in to the present moment is where sensations come in – a sensation is always in the present. While you’re reading this, notice the sensations in the body or get aware of your breathing, listen carefully to any sound nearby. Congratulations, you have just been practicing mindfulness! By doing mindfulness exercises based around sensations (e.g. the breath) and by becoming more aware in our daily life of what’s going on around us, we can spend more time in the present. When our habitual repetitive worry or anxious thinking fades we find we have more time and energy for what our brain was made for: creativity, problem solving, appreciating music to name a few.
Mindfulness works mostly by changing our attitude to the symptoms, rather than changing the symptoms themselves. Being mindful requires us
To overcome the desire to reduce uncertainty in daily life
To override a tendency to engage in automatic behavior
And to engage less frequently in evaluations of self, others, and situations.
Following are some of the techniques of mindfulness which one can practice.
Sitting at a computer all day? Bring awareness to your posture and breath.
While eating, Notice the food on your plate. Pay attention to colors, shapes and smells. Bring awareness to the sensation of chewing and the flavors, textures and temperatures in your mouth. Notice any urge to eat quickly or swallow your food without chewing it completely. Be aware of the mind being hijacked from the experience of eating and gently bring it back to the food.
On social media, before checking in to Facebook or Twitter, bring a conscious intention to the amount of time you plan to spend engaging on social media. Notice the urge to keep checking and scrolling through the feed. Notice any emotions that arise as you experience other people’s lives.
At the gym,Tune in to the sensations of your body while exercising. Notice the kind of thoughts that arise when you are exerting yourself. Take a moment to be grateful for the capacity of your body to so miraculously function.
In bed,So many people use digital technology, whether laptops or phones. Phones are commonly used as alarm clocks these days. Notice how you relate to technology in the bedroom and whether this impacts on your ability to fall asleep.
While in the shower,tune in to the sensations of water and temperature on your skin. Notice when your mind wanders off and gently bring it back to the sensations of your body.As,choosing something you do regularly each day can be a helpful way to remember to practice mindfulness.
While walking,these days we often do many things – we listen to music, text message, speak on our phones or play Pokémon go. Try using walking as a mindful practice. Feel your feet making contact with the ground. Notice what it feels like to walk a little slower if you’re not actually in a rush. Take in your surroundings, the smells, the colors, the sounds. Use mindful walking between meetings to create a moment of mindfulness in your day.
Any activity can be done mindfully! To know more about various mindfulness techniques, speak to our psychologists here.
Psychologist at Type a Thought