thoughts & ponderings
I have noticed recently that the term 'mindfulness' is being used more frequently and in more mainstream settings than say, a decade ago. It is no longer identified only with religion, Buddhism in particular, and the spiritualist hippy realm. It seems that it is being embraced universally, and with good reason, particularly in the area of psychology. But, it doesn't have to be only for people who are struggling with mental or emotional health issues. What we are learning is that it is a useful tool for all people to help deal with the stresses of our fast paced modern life and to assist us in reconnecting with our authentic selves.
So what is mindfulness?
Essentially it is being in the 'now', the present moment and being aware or conscious of our thoughts, feelings and the sensations experienced in the physical body at this time. The aim is to observe our thoughts and feelings, attaching no judgement, just accepting.
Mindfulness has become a much used technique with psychologists and counsellors who are finding it to be beneficial to clients who are struggling with depression and anxiety. It can often be the case that depression is linked with living in the past or dwelling on the past, while anxiety is often experienced around situations that have an element of the unknown and can be related to something that we have not yet experienced. Neither of these are possible if our focus is purely on now, that small moment by moment space of time that sits between the past and the future.
But mindfulness is for everyone and can actually enhance the experience of life. When I thought about my life and the areas that were perhaps neglected or pretty much ignored, I decided to apply mindfulness and gave myself permission to not be juggling five or six balls in the air but to give full attention to the task at hand whatever it may be.
I decided to make an effort to be mindful around food, eating and nurturing. I chose to be mindful when eating as, to be honest, I am a bit on the heavy side and I recognise that this is an area that I pay little attention to. Like many others, I am often rushed and even while eating my mind can be busy thinking of what has to be done next, or where I need to be. Through focusing solely on the task of food preparation and consumption I noticed the difference in the taste of the food and my appreciation was quite marked. By preparing the food mindfully I found that I connected with it and had more appreciation for it. I developed a nurturing attitude instead of a quick and easy approach to my food choices. By eating mindfully I listened when my body said it had had enough. Slowly chewing and being aware of the texture and flavour of different foods really made the meal satisfying and left me feeling an overall sense of contentedness.
There are so many situations in our daily lives where mindfulness can be practised. The benefits are many from stress reduction, changing emotional reactivity habits to mind clarity and personal insight.
If you're still not sure how to introduce mindfulness into your daily life a very effective way is to do mindful meditation. Now, the benefits of meditation on their own are well known and many but I'll leave that for another blog. There are many mindfulness meditations available on the internet or if you prefer you will find yoga practitioners or spiritual groups that may run groups somewhere near you. Either way it is definitely well worth it.
So I'm off to do some mindful meditation now and I really encourage you to look at incorporating mindfulness into your life.
© White Sage Wellbeing & contributors. 2017