What Is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a simple form of meditation, just as yoga is another form of meditation. Meditation was not well known or practiced in the western parts of the world until more recently but has been practiced for centuries in the East. The aim of mindfulness therapy is to help you learn to be aware of your thoughts and bodily sensations and in so doing be able to better cope with day-to-day emotions and stress. Jon Kabat-Zinn is the name most closely associated with mindfulness which he defined as "paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally."
Meditation is a powerful relaxation tool and can be a good way to take time out and allow you to tune into and appreciate the moment. Many of us find our lives full of the demands of work, school, family, friends and organized leisure pursuits. We don’t have time to “smell the roses.” We get so caught up in planning and working toward the future that we don’t enjoy or take pleasure in the here and now. It’s easy to miss out on the simple joys of life…the flowers blooming, the singing of a bird in the tree overhead, the beauty of a sunrise or sunset. But you don’t have to take a walk in nature to benefit from mindfulness. Beauty and joy are there to be seen and experienced even in the most industrial landscapes or chaotic work settings, if only you take time out, allow yourself to tune it and appreciate the moment!
What Does It Mean to Practice Mindfulness?
A typical meditation consists of focusing your full attention on your breath. Focusing on each breath allows you to observe your thoughts as they arise in your mind and, little by little, to let go of struggling with them. You come to realize that thoughts come and go of their own accord; that you are not your thoughts. You can watch as they appear in your mind, seemingly from thin air, and watch again as they disappear. You come to the understanding that thoughts and feelings (both positive and negative ones) are transient. They come and go, and ultimately, you have a choice about whether to act on them or not.
Benefits of Mindfulness Practices
Over time, mindfulness can bring about long-term changes in mood and levels of happiness and wellbeing. Research has shown that mindfulness positively affects the brain patterns (increased alpha waves that trigger production of endorphins) underlying day-to-day anxiety, stress, depression and irritability. Other benefits of mindfulness practices can include improved memory and creativity. Through the regular daily practice of mindfulness we can change our relationship to stressors while at the same time reduce the adverse affects of chronic stress. Every time we meditate we are actively supporting and promoting our own health and well-being in heart, mind, and body.
Please contact me today to learn how mindfulness practices can help you manage stress in your life and promote health and wellbeing.