By Emma Johnston
Mindfulness: what is it and how can it help? Read on to find out.
Take a moment to feel your feet on the floor. Feel the clothes on your skin. Notice your breath. Breathe in through your nose. Notice the sensation of your breath in your nostrils as you breathe in. Now notice the sensation in your nostrils as you breathe out.
You’ve just tried mindfulness!
Mindfulness is a great way to slow down and reconnect with ourselves – which can be good for our wellbeing and overall mental health. In fact, studies have shown mindfulness can help to reduce stress, depression and anxiety, improve attention and memory, increase ability to regulate emotions and help manage chronic pain.
Mindfulness has been practiced for thousands of years and has roots in Buddhism and Hinduism (although it’s argued it has history in many other religions too). While it can be a spiritual practice, the technique of mindfulness is not religious or mystical – and can be practiced by anyone. Over the past few decades, scientists and researchers have investigated the benefits of mindfulness (as a tool) and it began to get adopted as a tool by psychologists in the 1970s.
Mindfulness can be practiced formally, through “mindfulness meditation”, or informally through simply being mindful and fully present as you undertake daily activities such as washing dishes, eating or going for a walk.
“Mindfulness meditation” usually involves sitting comfortably, quietly and still. It includes practicing being in the present, being fully aware of thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations, and doing so with openness, curiosity and without judgement. That is, fully accepting our experience as it is.
If you are interested in trying mindfulness meditation at home, Thinkwise Clinical Psychology provides a number of guided meditation for free at soundcloud.com/thinkwisepsychology. Just find a comfortable place to sit, close your eyes and give it a try!
* While most people benefit from mindfulness, in a rare number of cases it may make people more anxious. If mindfulness makes you feel worse, stop.
Talk to us if you would like to find out more about how to integrate mindfulness training into your life.
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