In recent years we have been hearing much about the benefits of Mindfulness and living mindfully. Put simply mindfulness is “Bringing our attention to what is happening in the present moment”. The goal of mindfulness is to live life more fully and to appreciate the moments of our lives that pass by all too easily. One author states that “Mindfulness helps us to weather the difficulties we encounter in our lives. It teaches us to steady ourselves in the present moment when we feel stressed”. Ruminating about the past or worrying about the future can be exhausting and takes up a lot of energy. Mindfulness allows us to put on the brakes and spend time just being with what is. It also teaches us to interact with ourselves in a less judgmental and more compassionate way. Research shows that Mindfulness is very helpful for problems such as anxiety, panic, stress and can help people who are prone to recurring depression and low mood. Studies in neuroscience – using brain scans – demonstrate how practicing mindfulness meditation can impact on the brain thereby creating beneficial changes in health, mood and behaviour. Mindfulness helps us to explore ways of freeing ourselves from old habits and choosing a different way of being.
So what does it involve. There is a common perception that meditation involves sitting down and not doing anything. However, that is not the case. Meditation is an active training of the mind – where awareness is increased. There is an emphasis on relaxating the body and mind, and the acceptance of feeling and thoughts without judgment.
Mindfulness allows us to become master of our own mind instead of being slaves to our mind. It can be practiced in a regular ‘formal’ meditation setting – but the great news is, it can also be practice throughout the day – at work, whilst driving, while we are cooking dinner or doing the dishes. Al these situations and many others provide an opportunity for this simple exercise. ne simple mindfulness exercise might be when you’re stopped at a traffic light. Rather than wishing and hoping the light will change to green – just bring your attention to your body and your breathing. Take one breath in, one breath out. Breathe in to a count of seven and out to a count of eleven.
One of my favourite quotes “life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away”. Sometimes our lives are so busy or we are wrapped up in worry and thinking we don’t recognize those moments. Being a little bit more mindful everyday can help us to attend to these breath-taking simple moments in life.
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