Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention to the present moment. Its about being consciously aware of your thoughts, feelings, and responses so you can develop a connection to the world around you.
It also aims to reconnect you with your body and the sensations that you experience which helps improve mental wellbeing.
At its core, Mindfulness encourages you to listen to the information that your mind and body are providing and to respond accordingly.
By identifying the things or relationships in your life that cause you stress, negativity or disharmony, you can start to engage more with the things, people, places and experiences that fill you with strength, joy, curiosity and happiness.
What are the benefits of Mindfulness?
Mindfulness allows you to see the present moment clearly and to engage with your thoughts and feelings as they happen – on a moment-to-moment basis. It’s about tuning in to all of your senses – sight, smell, sounds, tastes and touch – so that you can become more connected with your environment.
As you start to understand yourself better you become more aware of your internal dialog, giving yourself the opportunity to convert negative thoughts, self-criticism, self-doubt and self-depreciation, into more positive and uplifting ones.
This can have a profound effect on your mental wellbeing and state of mind and is a powerful mind-tool, now recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) as a way to help prevent depression.
It encourages breaking repetitive routines – try something new – parking in a different space, eating a different lunch, walking a different route to work and to be mindful about how this changes your thoughts and feelings.
What does a typical Mindfulness class look like?
Meditation plays a big part in Mindfulness and there are several different types of Mindfulness meditation.
For example, body scan meditation helps builds an awareness of how you are feeling; movement meditation uses slow walking, Yoga and other physical mind-body exercises to let go of thoughts.
Breathing meditation is a quick 3-minute mediation to help release stress; expanding awareness meditation helps develop an open awareness to all the senses; and visualisation meditations can also be used to help you feel more centred and balanced.
During these meditations you’ll observe the present moment, make a mental note of thoughts and release them so you don’t re-run your emotions.
How do I find a Mindfulness class that suits me?
There are two main types of Mindfulness so it’s important to consider what brings you to want to learn about it.
Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) is typically taught in 8-week classes and is best suited to mood issues such as depression. However, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is based around meditation techniques which have a Buddhist format and help to restructure and reformat the way you live your life and change your mental processing, feelings and emotions.
Try a few introductory classes of diffident types of Mindfulness meditation before signing up to a course of the style that you enjoy the most.