What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the practice of returning to the present moment.
The practice of mindfulness teaches us how to notice with an attitude of kindness, acceptance and without judgment. Recognising how busy our minds are can be most enlightening. We might be constantly focused on the past or the future, thinking, worrying or planning and the practice of mindfulness allows us to gently return to right here, right now.
Sounds easy hey!?
Practicing and cultivating mindfulness can actually be intensively challenging but the rewards are extraordinary and can provide us with a more full and joyful existence. Mindfulness enables us to grow greater self-awareness and establish more resilience. This practice of returning to the present moment teaches us how to respond rather than react and allows us to do so with a ‘wise mind’. By learning how to mindfully pause we can respond with greater wisdom to our own feelings and behaviours as well as to others. Enabling us to improve our relationship both with ourselves and with those around us.
Practicing mindfulness can involve breathing, guided meditation and other activities to help relax the body and mind and help reduce stress. Here at Blue Tree Therapy we like to introduce Mindfulness as a moment to moment experience that doesn’t always have to be about sitting crossed legged but introducing it into our everyday activities like washing up, cleaning our teeth, eating a meal or going for a walk. The wonderful thing about being in the present moment is we can practice it anywhere!
A regular sitting practice however has many further benefits and can take as little as 5 minutes a day. And if you can build up to at least 20 minutes the rewards will soon reveal themselves.
Spending too much time in our heads, planning, daydreaming, or thinking negative thoughts can create all sorts of problems for us and those around us. It can also make us more likely to experience stress, anxiety and depression and affect our ability to form healthy relationships. Practicing mindfulness can help direct your attention away from negative, repetitive thinking and enable you to be more present with yourself and with others.
How do you experience the Present Moment?
Not everybody feels safe in the present moment. Sometimes life’s events have taught us that it isn’t yet a safe place to reside. In which case a trauma informed practice may be more appropriate. It is advisable to only practice mindfulness if it feels safe and appropriate for you to do so, yet wonderful changes can still take place under the guidance of a trauma informed practitioner.
If it feels safe to do so, you could take a minute or two to notice this moment. Not to change it but to embrace it in its full sense.
What do you notice?
Perhaps you might then take a few moments to notice your breath. To pay attention closely as you breathe in and breathe out.
Notice how long it is before your first thought pops up?
Then gently notice it and name it as a 'thought' without getting pulled into it.
The non judgemental practice of then returning our attention to our breathe is what we today call Mindfulness.
Research has shown us that mindfulness meditation can reduce blood pressure, anxiety and heart rate. It can effectively reverse the sympathetic fight or flight response. Scans have now shown that our amygdala, the fight or flight center in our brain actually appears to shrink, therefore reducing our body’s response to stress. And as the amygdala shrinks, the pre-frontal cortex becomes thicker increasing our awareness, concentration and decision-making abilities. Mindfulness can also be utilised for pain management and research has shown that meditators report less pain than non-meditators.
Mindfulness is not just something for the alternative or spiritual it’s a highly informed, challenging practice and the science really does back it up!
If you are interested in this approach please see individual profiles for more information.
What can Mindfulness help with?
Mindfulness has the potential to help you in all kinds of ways including:
Concentration and awareness
Compulsions and addictions
Health issues and pain management
and just being...