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The term mindfulness has recently been coming up a lot in conversations, but I never really paid it much heed. To be honest, I thought it simply meant the same thing as being “mindful” or careful. It wasn’t until during one of my daily “browsing the Internet for interesting things to read” splurges, I came across an article on mindfulness and how it can transform your life. It was then I had an “a-ha” moment and realized how direly I needed this in my own life!

Expert Advice on Mindfulness

According to the experts at Mindful.org, mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us. Read this, and now re-read it. Let it sink in. Think for a minute about the depth and magnitude of being in a mindful state. To be here, now, present. Savoring, relishing, taking in your current experience and not dwelling on the past, fretting over the future, or getting overwhelmed by the present. It is a difficult state to achieve, is it even possible and does it even work? The answer is with some practice it can be done and it will change your life.

In the UK, mindfulness is recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) for many conditions including various mental illnesses, chronic pain and stress. (F. Coleman-Williams, 2017). The general concept behind how mindfulness works is focusing on what is coming in through your senses – in other words, what you see, feel, hear, smell etc. and then focusing on our breathing. This way, the accompanying thoughts and feelings which we normally tend to focus on instead of the actual experience itself, will just float by once we eventually get the hang of it.

How to Practice Mindfulness

The concept of mindfulness may seem looming and large, and you may not know where to begin. There are a few simple practices that you can incorporate into your daily routine which will allow you to re-focus and tune in. The first thing you need to do is to set some time aside in your day. Consciously take a few minutes out where you can sit away from distractions. When you are in that time and space, then focus your energy on taking in your present moment. Feel, hear, smell whatever is around you without any judgments. Focusing on your breathing at this time can help anchor you to your present moment and regulate your experience. As soon as you feel your thoughts and judgments pushing their way in, which they will very persistently, make a conscious effort to let them pass. The goal of mindfulness isn’t to reach a place of eternal peaceful bliss, but rather to accept that our minds do wander to the past and the future but we need to learn to harness it and bring it back, again and again, to the present moment. As soon as you feel your mind and attention wandering, return your focus to your breathing.

Once you feel like you are in a state where you have wholly taken in your present moment through all your sensory input, allow yourself to immerse back into the day. Do you feel a difference in your body? In your thoughts and emotions? If you continue this practice, you will begin to feel the effects. Taking moments out in your day to practice mindful meditation has shown through scientific studies to lower stress, allow greater focus of the mind, significantly reduce brain chatter, and garner better connections with others (mindful.org, 2015). These benefits are all individually remarkable, so imagine the collective outcome!

 

References:

Mindful.org (2015). Getting started with mindfulness. Retrieved from https:// www.mindful.org/meditation/mindfulness-getting-started/

Coleman-Williams, F. (2017). Does mindfulness really work? Retrieved from http:// metro.co.uk/2017/04/10/does-mindfulness-really-work-heres-what-the-experts-say-and-howto-practise-it-yourself-6550774/