Being mindful

Mindfulness is about being present or ‘in the moment’. Not looking at your phone, or wondering what’s happening later, but concentrating on the now. It is a skill that requires practice and can be incredibly beneficial for most people.

So what is it really?

A practice that has been around for thousands of years, mindfulness is a technique anyone can use. Essentially it allows you to let thoughts and feelings come and go without self-judgement. It is an attitude, or state of mind. There are different ways to practice it, but repeatedly bringing your attention back to your breath is a common approach.

How might it help me?

Research has shown mindfulness is beneficial in:

  • Reducing stress, anxiety and depression through focussing on the current experience rather than worrying about the future or past.
  • Increasing concentration, memory and processing speed, aiding study work and general life habits.
  • Improving relationships and overall wellbeing through the ability to be present and active with others.

It also helps preserve the grey matter in the brain - the part of the brain that helps us think, potentially reducing the risk of diseases such as alzheimer's or dementia.

I have tried it before and I wasn’t any good at it!

It’s not easy to begin with, but practicing regularly is the key. It’s important not to get frustrated when your mind wanders as this is the technique - noticing you’ve become distracted from the present, and returning to a focal point, such as the breath or a mantra. You can practice for just a few minutes each day to see the benefits.

There are lots of different ways to get started. I have a few different apps on my phone, such as Smiling Mind, Calm, Headspace, Stop Breathe & Think. I have used them on my commute on the train, as well as when I am feeding my baby! It can take listening to a few different options until you find the one that resonates with you.

Another option is to attend mindfulness classes. These are offered by local councils, U3A and mindfulness coaches all over the place.

Or you can simply start to focus on what you’re feeling for 5 minutes once a day. If your attention wanders, that’s OK, focus on your breath moving in and out of your body to help. You can slowly increase the length of time you do this for.

It does get easier with practice, and you should start to see the benefits quite quickly.

For more help with mindfulness training, see the apps mentioned above, or try one of the following links:

The information given here is general in nature. For information and support specifically tailored to your needs, book an appointment today