I’ve mentioned a few times I’ve been using mindfulness over the last couple of months and it’s been really helpful.
A lot of people have shown an interest in it and have asked for more info so I’m starting a series of blog posts called Mindful Mondays.
I plan to publish posts on Mondays (surprise surprise) where I’ll summarise bits of the programme I’m using and give some tried and tested ideas you can try if you want to.
The programme I’m using is called Mindfulness for Health: A Practical Guide to Relieving Pain, Reducing Stress and Restoring Wellbeing by Vidyamala Bunch and Danny Penman (published in the USA as You Are Not Your Pain).
I’m also using the Headspace app, which provides a free trial if you wanted to give it a go to find out what it’s all about. It’s really accessible and well designed with animations, rewards, reminders and lots of other things that keep me motivated and interested.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness simply means ‘mindful awaresness’.
It’s about taking a bit of time out to become fully present and aware of your body, your breathing and your surroundings.
It’s about fully relaxing and unwinding for a few minutes each day.
It’s about being compassionate to yourself and other people.
It’s about being purposeful and present in what you do, whatever that may be.
It’s about finding more moments of clarity and calm in day-to-day life.
It’s about living in the present and experiencing this moment instead of getting caught up in the past or the future.
It’s about looking at your thoughts more objectively and becoming more in control of the mind.
All in all, it’s a way of being that’s often lost in our busy and hectic lives.
Does it work?
According to Mindfulness for Health, research has shown all sorts of benefits to using mindfulness:
*It can be as effective as morphine in relieving pain.
*It decreases stress, tension, exhaustion, anxiety and depression.
*It increases creativity, productivity, attention and resilience.
*It improves self-awareness, empathy and self-control.
You can find out more on the Headspace Science page.
That’s what the research says.
All I know is that I’m feeling calmer, sleeping better, feeling more connected with myself and other people and feeling more confident about the future, whatever that might be.
The actual pain is no different but my response to it has changed.
Of course it might be coincidence, or it might be something else, but I certainly notice on the days when I forget to do a session (or when I decide not to do it because I can’t be bothered), that’s when things seem to fall apart, then most of the time they get back on track once I engage with it again.
So I think I can tentatively conclude that it is making a difference for me.
Want to try it?
Mindfulness is simple.
You can practice it right here, right now if you like, wherever you are and whatever you’re doing.
Just follow these 7 simple steps:
1. Tune in to your breathing – don’t try to alter it in any way, just observe it.
2. Focus on the air going in, then out, at whatever pace feels natural for you.
3. Feel how your chest and belly rise then fall as the air moves in and out.
4. Gradually move your attention to focus on whichever parts of your body are in contact with something solid, e.g. your feet on the floor and your bum and legs on the chair. Those are your anchor points.
5. Allow yourself to feel heavy and relaxed, allowing gravity to pull you down so you feel fully grounded to your anchor points.
6. Return your awareness to your breathing, focusing on the air as it flows in and out.
7. Close your eyes for a few moments and savour the feeling of your consciousness being connected to your body and your breathing.
You’ve just experienced mindful awareness, also known as mindfulness!
See you next week for the next Mindful Monday post
Picture from the “Mindfulness for Health” book