Mindfulness originated in Buddhist teachings and has four main elements (foundations). These are Mindfulness of body sensations, Mindfulness of feelings, Mindfulness of the state of mind and Mindfulness of the contents of our minds.
It’s easy to rush through life without giving much attention to where we are and what we are doing. We can, easily lose touch with how our bodies are feeling. Stopping and giving your current experience your full attention can be enjoyable, beneficial and can reduce stress. As Thich Nhat Hanh (Vietnamese Monk and Peace Activist) said, “With mindfulness, you can establish yourself in the present in order to touch the wonders of life that are available in that moment”.
Another key part of mindfulness is to connect with our bodies and experience the sensations our environment gives us. This means exploring our senses, what we can feel or hear or smell, etc. By doing this, we begin to experience, anew, things that we have taken for granted.
Allowing yourself to notice of your thoughts, feelings, body sensations and the world around you is the first step to mindfulness. You can practise mindfulness anywhere and at any time. To help practise mindfulness in your daily life it is often helpful to pick a regular time. Perhaps first thing in the morning or at lunchtime. . I like to set aside at least ten minutes a day to be in nature and be mindful. Sometimes I find that I am tense or troubled and I use this time to explore why this is and try to resolve it.
Breaking routines and trying new things, such as sitting in a different seat in meetings or going somewhere new for lunch, can also help you notice the world in a new way. Recently, I tried a different route to walk near my house. I had for some time wanted to buy a Buddleia bush to plant on my front lawn. While on my new walk, I saw a very small Buddleia plant growing wild amid some rubble. I took it home and am nurturing it so it can take its place on my lawn in a few years’ time.
Some people find that it is easier to calm their mind and achieve mindfulness by doing something to distract them such as Tai-chi, Yoga or even just walking. Everyone is different and there is no right or wrong answer.
When you have a setback or experience a difficult time, we should be aware that brooding about it isn’t helpful as you are getting caught up in our thoughts. It can be especially helpful to take a mindful approach if you realise that you have been trapped in reliving past problems or imagining future problems. This awareness can helps us notice signs of stress or anxiety earlier and helps us deal with them more effectively.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), the UK health oversight authority, recognises the benefits of mindfulness to prevent depression in people who have a past history of it.
Mindfulness isn’t the answer to everything, but there’s encouraging evidence for its use in health, education and workplaces. And many people use it to improve their quality of life. As Kathy Bates (American Actress) said, “I have really focused on mindfulness. That helps me make better choices both physically, psychologically, and emotionally”.
For help and advice on Mindfulness, contact me. Hypnotherapy also has a number of techniques that can with stress, anxiety and burnout.