Has everyone had a good start to the week and made it to the gym at least once?
A question that’s been up for discussion in the gym has been mindfulness.
Paying more attention to the present moment – to your own thoughts and feelings and to the world around you – can improve your mental wellbeing.
Some people call this awareness "mindfulness". Mindfulness can help us enjoy life more and understand ourselves better. You can take steps to develop it in your own life.
Here are 5 reasons why mindfulness is cool. More next week.
1. It’s free
We can bring our attention to anything at any time, and we don't need any special books, gadgets, or experiences. There is nothing that we need to buy in order to practice mindfulness. We can become aware of what's happening now, right now. For example, as you read these words, you're likely thinking about what I've written (at least I hope so).
Now, take a few moments to do the following: Re-focus your gaze to the edges of your computer monitor. Notice what colours you see as well as any differences in shading. Use words to describe what you notice. Slowly bring your gaze back to this article, paying particular attention to the colours and shades of the your desktop, such as the background, programs, icons, ads, etc. And, then resume reading. Congratulations! You just practised mindfulness! Of course, we often need a little guidance, so attending a workshop or buying a book can be helpful
1. It helps us accept things we cannot change
Sometimes, we can take some constructive action to feel better, like getting out of an unhealthy relationship or stepping out of the rain. However, when pain is unavoidable, mindfulness allows us to suffer less. By developing a certain amount of flexibility in determining where to place our attention as well as equanimity relative to our reactive judgements, we can experience painful things without getting caught up in additional suffering. Pain is just painful, as opposed to being something that we rail against or refuse to acknowledge.
2. It’s supported by research as being helpful.
Psychological science has demonstrated the effectiveness of various mindfulness-based therapies in helping people with pain, anxiety, substance abuse and borderline personality disorder. However, it is not a cure-all for everyone. For example, Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy for Depression has been shown to prevent depression relapse in people who have suffered three or more episodes.
3. It can be done without any extraordinary effort.
Mindfulness is often mistakenly equated with meditation. This is not surprising: indeed, there are mindfulness meditations! However, meditation is simply a way to practice mindfulness in a structured, dedicated way. It's akin to going to the gym in order to work-out, perhaps. You can get into shape by running around the block or taking the stairs more often. And, we can train our minds in the same way.
4. It encourages us to trust in our own experiences.
Mindfulness does not require that you believe anyone or anything; it simply encourages you to notice what's happening. No one is a better expert on your experience in the present moment than you and the same goes for me. I can't tell you what you're experiencing, and vice versa.
If stand side-by-side, we might share some environmental experiences in that space, like hearing a siren outside. However, our perceptions and judgements of these experiences are likely to be very different. I might find the siren annoying, while you extend a blessing to the people responding to an apparent emergency.
If you feel you need to take more time and thought over things but can’t seem to get off autopilot then try some mindfulness techniques to refocus your mind.
See you soon
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