Mindfulness is the practice of being in the moment, whether it relates to acknowledging our own personal thoughts or feelings or taking notice of what is going on around you, it is known to support and improve mental well being
What is mindfulness
Mindfulness is about raising levels of awareness to what is going on inside our bodies, our minds and what is happening around us in the outside world. It is readily known that we can get trapped in our heads with our thoughts having a riot. Personally, I consider my thoughts as doing cartwheels around my mind, going into flips and flops. One random thought managing to ebb into another and before I know it, I have been in my own headspace for a long time and disassociated with the world around me. Mindfulness acts to bring you back into the present and reconnect our bodies with sensation. This means acknowledging the sights, sounds, smells, tastes and feel of the present moment. An example would be when sitting in an armchair: take notice of the feel of the ground under the feet, the feel of the armchair on our hands, the sensation of the cushions underneath us, the sound of the traffic outside, the pattern of the curtains, the smell in the air etc. It is a unique grounding experience that allows relief from racing thoughts – a bit like a re-set button.
How does mindfulness help
Many of us will have issues that we find hard to let go of and allow to take control of our minds. Mindfulness enables you to realise these thoughts and emotions and to step back and notice whether there is a pattern to them. It enables us to recognise that these thoughts and feelings are not in control of us and we can put a stop to them and see them for what they really are. The practice of mindfulness is known to reduce stress and anxiety. Often when having an anxious moment or panic attack, the practice of mindfulness will bring someone back into the present and not the trauma they are facing.
How to practice mindfulness
There are many ways to practice mindfulness but the aim of the practice is to induce a focused relaxation of the mind, this means deliberately paying attention to our thoughts and the sensations associated with them, but without judgement. This will enable the mind to re-focus on the present and bring you back from the racing thoughts, anxiety etc. Mindfulness in essence is a form of meditation, it can be done while sitting quietly, whilst out walking, taking a moment out from work – in the toilet at work if necessary (yes, I have done that!). In reality, where, how and when you practice mindfulness is a personal experience. It can last for a few minutes or an hour or more. I have practiced mindfulness whilst walking, running and trying to sleep. Personally, on each of those occasions it has been to prevent racing thoughts – I accept that cartwheels in the brain is part of me and I do not judge, but when I need to focus or re-energise, I practice mindfulness and I find it works. I hope that it works for you too!