You've probably heard of the terms mindful or mindfulness before, but do you know what they actually mean?
Mindful - a term used to describe being aware of, conscious of, alive to, sensible alert to or awake to.
Mindfulness - is the state of being conscious or aware of something. This is a mental state achieved by focusing your awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting your feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations.
I saw this image online once and it has resonated with me ever since...
Which one are you?
There is so much 'stuff' in our daily life which takes up volumes of space in our mind, it can actually prove very difficult to simply focus on one thing at a time. How many times do you find yourself having a conversation with someone, only to catch yourself thinking about what time it is, where you need to be next, what's been organised for dinner, responding to that message from earlier and so on.....
All the time right?
When this happens (and it does), we may experience very strong emotions such as anxiety, sadness or anger as a result. With these emotions, often come unhelpful thoughts and negative thinking patterns such as “I’ll never manage all of this” or "I'm always so far behind".....
Such thoughts and thinking patterns can be so damaging to our self-confidence that the long term impact makes us feel that we are not in control of our minds and that we can’t cope.
The aim is bring awareness back to what you are presently doing and in doing so, puts you in control of your mind.
How do I become mindful?
Your mind is just like any other muscle in the body - the more you train it, the more it will perform better for you.
Most of us believe we need to 'do' to achieve - and this may be the case in many things - but not with being mindful!
Mindfulness is achieved by 'not doing', simply by observing.
It achieves its success by allowing us to see our thoughts and emotions as just thoughts and emotions, rather than something to which we rule our lives by and be critical of. With time and practice, we will stop identifying with the thoughts and emotions and our mind will cease to be in the control of those strong feelings and thoughts - the control is then slowly returned to us.
There are so many benefits associated with living life in the present moment. Not only will you start to feel more connected to your purpose and those around you, you will also have increased self-awareness and a heightened sense of intuition.
Mindfulness Improves Well Being
Increasing your capacity for mindfulness supports overall well-being which contributes to living a satisfied and fulfilled life.
By bringing your awareness to the present moment, mindfulness can assist with less stress and worries about the future, less regret and preoccupation over the past, increased levels of self confidence and are able to form deeper and more meaningful connections with others.
Practicing mindfulness makes it easier to truly take in and enjoy the pleasures in life as they occur. Mindfulness helps you become fully engaged in activities, which in turn, benefits those you are with.
Mindfulness Improves Physical Health
If you're the type of person who likes to look for fact and Scientific evidence, I've got you covered. Scientists have discovered the ways in which mindfulness techniques can assist in improving physical health. Mindfulness has been associated with:
Treating heart disease
Improvements in quality of sleep and sleeping patterns
Lowering blood pressure
Reducing chronic pain
Mindfulness Improves Mental Health
As a Holistic Health Practitioner, I have seen first hand the benefits and positive impact that practicing mindfulness can create. What I am pleased to see is that in recent years, Psychotherapists, Doctors and other Qualified Medical Professionals have turned to incorporating mindfulness techniques in the treatment of a number of mental health issues including:
Drug and alcohol abuse
So with all of this information, you must be thinking "how can I practice mindfulness"....
Just like there's more than one machine to use at the gym, there is more than one way to practice mindfulness - keeping in mind the objective of any mindfulness technique is to achieve a state of focused relaxation by deliberately paying attention to thoughts and sensations without internal criticism or judgment.
All mindfulness techniques are a form of meditation.
Basic mindfulness breathing meditation – Find yourself a comfortable position and focus your attention to your natural breath. Allow thoughts to come and go without judgment and allow your mind to return to the focal point of your breath.
Body sensations – Become aware of any subtle body sensations such as any itches or tingling and without judgement, let them pass. Slowly guide your focus to each part of your body from your toes to your head.
Emotions – For so many different reasons, society has conditioned us to believe it's a negative thing to feel or express our emotions.
Like I am forever saying to my clients "you need to feel to heal"...
Allow emotions to be present without any judgement.
Practice a steady and relaxed naming of emotions: "Joy....Anger....Fear....Trust....Anticipation....Sadness....Disgust....Surprise...."
Accept the presence of the emotions without judgment and then simply let them go.
Mindfulness practice involves accepting whatever comes into your state of awareness at each moment and
it involves being kind to yourself and forgiving toward yourself.
Don't be too hard on yourself if your mind starts to wander - gently acknowledge and bring it back to your focal point without judgement. If you miss your intended practice or meditation session - simply start again!
By accepting your experience during mindfulness practice, it becomes easier to accept whatever comes your way during the rest of your day and you will slowly start to feel more connected and 'present' wherever you are.
Love & Light
xx Sandra Stoitis xx