Mindfulness is the practice of focusing your awareness to the present moment, your thoughts, feelings, and the world around you. One of the key teachings in mindfulness is to reconnect with our bodies and become more in touch with our senses including sights, sounds, smells and tastes. This enables us to experience things that we take for granted in a new light. It is important to become more aware of our thoughts and feelings as they happen in order to see the present moment more clearly. Mindfulness allows us to take a step back and begin to see the patterns of our thoughts, notice when these thoughts are taking over, and realise that they do not have to take control of us. This can have a positive effect on the way we see and understand ourselves and the world around us.
What are the benefits of mindfulness?
- Reduced stress: Mindfulness meditation allows us to slow down and focus on something simple such as the breath. With regular practice, our brains adapt, meaning we cope better with difficult situations and react less strongly to stress.
- Better focus: Concentration can be practiced by repeatedly bringing our attention back to a point of focus – often the breath. Using the breath to ground us can be useful when we notice our thoughts are beginning to take control.
- Increased happiness: Mindfulness practices teach us how to really appreciate and take notice of positive experiences.
- Better physical health: Chronic stress has been shown to be one of the biggest contributors to poor health, leading to problems such as high blood pressure, digestive problems and chronic pain. As mindfulness helps to reduce stress, it therefore has a positive impact on our physical as well as mental health.
There are many ways to practice mindfulness, either through the use of apps, websites or books (see below for some handy resources), or as part of other practices such as yoga. Just remember, when you begin practicing mindfulness you may find it very difficult but like anything, it gets easier the more you do it, that’s why it is called mindfulness practice!
Resources for mindfulness
- Calm - https://www.calm.com
- Headspace - https://www.headspace.com/headspace-meditation-app
- Waking up with Sam Harris - https://wakingup.com
- Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Finding Peace in a Frantic World by Mark Williams and Danny Penman
- The Little Book of Mindfulness by Patrizia Collard
- 'Mindfulness – Moodzone’ NHS: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/mindfulness/
- Calm blog - https://www.calm.com/blog/7-benefits-of-mindfulness