So it’s not just for those with time on their hands.
In fact, Mindfulness uses time we already expend on activities in our lives. Isn’t that a pleasant surprise!
Up until now you may have been too busy with work, raising a family, running a business or just plain old enjoying yourself. What a relief to know that you can do something that would be beneficial to all those activities and that takes up no extra time.
Mindfulness is awareness or focus.
Dr Jon Kabat-Zinn, a pioneer of clinical mindfulness, describes it as paying attention. But not just any kind of attention. It is attention in a “particular kind of way.” It is attention on purpose. In the present moment. And it is non-judgmental-attention.
Seems a bit too easy?
Well not quite!
Paying attention can be hard. Especially to the present moment. Try it!
If you have a second hand on your wrist watch, see if you can focus on nothing else. Just watch it go around for a whole minute. Not counting or thinking of anything else.
If you can do it, that’s a good start. But if not, don’t worry. It just means you are a normal human being. Distracted. Lost in thought. Hence unable to focus. And that as a result Mindfulness might do you some good!
The great news is that we can all learn to be Mindful. There are many benefits from this. Especially:
There are only two real types of Mindfulness
An ordinary activity such as eating can be done mindfully.
Most people seldom pay attention to what they are eating. The food is rushed down between tasks. Or even during them. One hand putting food into our mouths. Another checking emails or changing the TV channel.
Eating Mindfully means putting all out attention on our food. Hence noticing what it looks and smells like. Noticing the rich flavors. Eating slowly in small mouthfuls. Savoring the taste.
In our stress reduction course I ask our participants to eat one meal in a Mindful way. Reluctantly they usually agree. Almost always they are pleased with the result.
But it is not just about eating, of course.
There are any number of activities that we can do mindfully. Walking, driving, making a cup of coffee or having a shower. To name just a few. Try one mindful activity a week for a start. See what effect it has!
Formal Mindfulness can be a group or individual exercise. It especially allows us to practice certain kinds of awareness. This can be of breath or body sensations. Or it can be of emotions or thoughts or sounds and smells.
Due to false information many people believe meditation means the mind must be blank. So that if the mind wanders we have failed. In fact it is impossible to ever have a blank mind. And minds always wander. Consequently when your mind does wander bring it back to focus again.
Slowly, with practice our focus and concentration become stronger.
Because of Mindlessness’s great benefits a lot of research has been undertaken. Leading academic institutions believe Mindfulness can make enormously positive changes in our lives. Thousands of peer reviewed papers prove this. All show that it improves physical and emotional well-being. It is especially useful in reducing stress.
Furthermore, some of of the key findings show that mindfulness boosts emotional intelligence as well. And, after a little time, leads to brain growth. Particularly in the areas associated with self-awareness and empathy, as well as soothing parts of the brain associated with the hormones of stress.
So whether you practice formally or informally there’s no longer any excuse. The science is out. With little effort and no extra time you can do something good for mind, body and soul. As a result you’ll feel better and brighter. And have more focus and concentration at work.
Matt is a trained and licenced Mindfulness teacher and Stress and Anxiety Reduction Counsellor operating in and around the Peterborough area. After overcoming his own stress and anxiety he's found his purpose teaching others to do the same.
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