MindfulnessIn the midst of all the changes in your life, there is a backdrop of unchanging silence - Jeff Forster
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness means “paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and non judgmentally” (Jon Kabat-Zinn).
Learning to be mindful is a powerful practice in therapy as it is an effective method to get to know yourself, to reduce stress, and to live in the present moment. Mindfulness is about observation without criticism and being compassionate with yourself. It helps you to understand, tolerate, and regulate your emotions in healthy ways. You also come to realise that your thoughts come and go of their own accord and that you are not your thoughts. You come to the profound understanding that thoughts and feelings (including negative ones) are transient. They come and they go, and that ultimately, you have a choice about whether to act on them or not. Mindfulness allows you to catch negative thought patterns before they impact and overwhelm you emotionally. It begins the process of having more control of your life.
By learning to experience the present moment as it really is, we develop the ability to step away from habitual, often unconscious emotional and physiological reactions to everyday events and to better see things as they really are. We are then more able to respond to these events wisely rather than reacting without self-awareness. Mindfulness teaches us to pause and then to choose how to respond rather than to react unconsciously.
Mindfulness is a way of paying attention to, and seeing clearly whatever is happening in our lives. It will not eliminate life’s pressures, but it can help us respond to them in a calmer manner that benefits us emotionally, cognitively and physically. Research studies have shown that mindfulness has widespread physical, emotional and cognitive benefits. Over time, mindfulness can bring about long-term changes in mood and levels of happiness and wellbeing.
How does mindfulness work?
In therapy, you will work towards truly seeing your life and where you are at this moment. You will become more aware of your emotions and will learn not to repress, intellectualise or avoid them. It is only by acknowledging and truly allowing yourself to feel your feelings, that you can move forward. If you feel what is happening, the negative feelings will pass quicker. You will learn from your negative emotions.
Mindfulness means watching the conditioned script playing in your head with self-compassion. It is only when you see your script, that you can change it.
Mindfulness teaches you to be awake. When we are awake, we are fully present to our experience and to what is. We are conscious of what’s going on inside us, as it happens. We can therefore make more conscious choices rather than acting on our impulses.
Mindfulness needs to become a part of our daily awareness, moment by moment, if we are to reap maximum benefit from it.
How do I know I need mindfulness?
- You feel stressed, run down, overwhelmed
- You feel stuck in your head – lamenting the past, worrying about the future — and as a result, miss out on what’s happening in the present
- You’re living on autopilot
- You don’t understand why you feel a certain way
- You feel rushed and time-pressured
- You’re constantly exhausted
- Your body is full of aches and pains
- You’re short-tempered and irritable
- You suffer from mood swings
- You have difficulty staying focussed
- You keep falling into the same mental traps
- You can’t make simple decisions
- You’re not coping with the demands of your life
- Your problems seem insurmountable
- You wonder about the meaning of life
- You feel depressed or are constantly anxious
- You have difficulty being present