Mindfulness / Stress Awareness Month
Mindfulness has its roots in Buddhism but has been adapted for use in the West. In essence, it uses positive thinking as a way to promote personal wellbeing.
Mindfulness is making a conscious decision about where to focus your attention and choosing to be present in the moment. By doing this, you end the negative feelings that come from trying to escape the things you cannot change.
Is it an authentic approach to relaxation?
You're probably wondering whether this is just some fad therapy from the distant East that's found it's way to the UK via alternative medicine. Well I can tell you that mindfulness is something that has wide-ranging acceptance in medical circles and has more than a foothold in the NHS. Why? Because it works. As long as you are prepared to keep at it you should see positive results.
I think a comparison with athletes is probably the best way of describing the process. An athlete focuses on the present, stays optimistic, and avoids distraction if they want to succeed. In the same way, being “mindful” is all about occupying the present and letting external influences melt into the background.
Formal mindfulness is called meditation. It involves focusing your attention on your body, breathing, and sensations. Meditation can reduce stress and increase your ability to relax. You can even do it at home.
I suggest sitting in a comfortable chair (or on a cushion on the floor) so that you are stable and erect, and then concentrating on each breath you take. When your attention wanders from your breath, take notice of this and return your focus back to your breathing.
How can you incorporate these techniques into everyday life? My approach is to find small moments in each day to connect with people. Work on understanding that if a person says something negative, it is often because he or she is harbouring negativity.
Make an effort to really stay present and listen to someone when they are speaking to you; be open to what they are going through and who they really are. Guide your thoughts away from negative or resentful feelings. Choose to pay attention without judging.
Mental health benefits
Mindfulness can help provide you with awareness and instil in you a non-judgemental acceptance of unpleasant and distressing thoughts, feelings, and events. Deciding to be optimistic, present, and good to yourself and others can help you succeed professionally as well as lead to stress reduction, better concentration, improved memory, better relationships, and more satisfaction with your life.
So, what are you waiting for? Start practising the techniques of mindfulness today... you can also check out my videos on mindfulness on my YouTube channel.