I first came across the concept of mindfulness in Yoga. I took a 16 week beginners class to learn the basics of the art in an effort to relieve some stress and, hopefully, make myself a little more flexible. And I truly think it worked. I do remember leaving each of those yoga classes with an inherent sense of calm.
It’s been a while since I’ve been to yoga class. Not for any other reason than that life gets in the way sometimes. But, I’ve come across the practice of mindfulness, one of the key concepts of yoga, in another area of life. It’s true, ‘they’ swear by mindfulness in therapy.
One of the things I’ve been told in therapy is that I could benefit from being a lot more mindful. And honestly, that’s true. The more that I think about it though, the more that I think everyone can benefit from being more mindful.
At times it can come across as a tad hokey. It’s worth the effort, if you’re willing to put forth the time.
*Please keep in mind, I did not write the following. It was a hand-out written by my therapist. I was asked to put it on my wall to remind me to practice mindfulness as I go about each day.
What is mindfulness?
- Mindfulness is experiencing the present moment in a non-judgmental way. It is paying attention with a welcoming and allowing attitude… noticing whatever we are experiencing in our thoughts, behaviour and feelings.
- Making changes in our life begins with awareness. Awareness means paying attention to what we are doing, thinking and feeling. We then have the option to either accept things or change them.
- Practicing mindfulness teaches us to relax and remain alert in the midst of the problems and joys of life. It encourages us to pause in the moment and respond to life with curiosity and a welcoming attitude.
How do you practice mindfulness?
- The practice of mindfulness focuses on four areas: body, emotions, thoughts and inner self/soul.
- Begin by becoming aware of your breath. Simply notice the sensations of the breath in the nose, throat, lungs or belly. Follow the breath just as it is. The goal is not to change it but to observe it and be mindful of each breath.
- Once you’ve mastered your breath, mindfulness can extend to noticing: body sensations such as pain, pleasure, heat, cold, tension and relaxation, emotions such as fear, anger, sadness and happiness, thoughts that arise in the mind in the form of sentences, words, fragments and images and your connection with your inner-self and with the universe.
- The purpose is to fully experience and be aware of whatever might arise within you… calm, security, panic, fear…
- The practice of mindfulness, when you’ve worked at it enough, will continue you as you move through your day, becoming more and more aware of your reactions as you go about your daily activities. Are you breathing more heavily when you’re scared? Do you breathe more deeply when you’re calm? How do you react in situations? How can you use that knowledge to better deal with situations in future?
It is believed that by staying in the present, being aware of who we are, how we feel and how we react to our day as we go through it, we’ll be less likely to get caught up in worries about the future or regrets over the past.
Because nobody should be worried about the past, and the future should be something to look forward too, not worry about.
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