Mindfulness may have been born out of Buddhism but it has developed into a concept with ever growing popularity in counselling, psychology and in everyday life. It is a ‘way of being’ which can promote benefits to anyone willing to embrace some relatively simple techniques – and willing to accept that this is not a religious practice designed only for those willing to sit cross legged on the floor and to embrace New Age techniques. The concept considers that we can become so busy trying to process past worries and anticipating future ones that we rarely fully experience our feelings and senses in the here and now.
Living mindfully is so much more accessible than you might think. Try these ideas as an introduction to the concept:-
- Eat in a mindful way – choose something delicious and smell, touch and study it before you eat it. Then eat it really slowly, chewing at least 20 times before you swallow. Focus on the taste and other sensations in your mouth
- Find a place where you feel comfortable and spend time there alone and in silence – even if only for 10 minutes. Notice the beauty around you. When your thoughts disturb you, acknowledge them and let them pass through your mind like clouds in the sky
- Go to a park and hear the noises you normally tune out – birds singing, wind through the trees, children’s laughter. Let the sounds replace the chatter in your head. Tune into the here and now and notice how the experience feels.
- Choose an object to hold and notice how it feels in your hands – notice its shape and textures. Consider what it represents for you and take time to appreciate it – see where it takes you in your mind
- Learn more about meditation – see it as the opportunity to treat yourself to some ‘me time’. Don’t expect to feel as though you are ‘getting it right’ straight away. Practice ‘just being’ and notice how it can generate a sense of calm. Remember, when your thoughts disturb you, acknowledge them and let them go
Being mindful means noticing things in the moment – things which you would not normally take the time to see, hear, feel, taste, smell or maybe thoughts which you would normally not process in the here and now.
Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of modern day Mindfulness and the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Programme said ‘Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgementally.’ He helps people to quieten their minds though his practices and techniques.
Scientific studies have linked Mindfulness practice to anxiety reduction, depression prevention and improved pain management.
So what can it do for you right now?
- A fresh look at the world and how to tackle difficult situations with a clearer mind
- A greater awareness of unhelpful thoughts and feelings
- Greater control over your reactions and a stronger sense of calm
- Improved creativity and problem solving
…and potentially, a happier you!
To find out more about our Counsellors and Mindfulness in Birmingham and the way they work visit the our counsellors page at Birmingham Counselling Services