Mindfulness in Everyday life
Does mindfulness play a role in your life? Whatever we feel towards the human race one thing is for sure – humans are remarkable at adapting. Alertness and awareness play a big part in this. Throughout the approx. 2 million years since we first populated the Earth, our vigilance, attentiveness, and critical thinking made us survive and hugely expand as a species.
However, the mind – our best asset – can generate all sorts of effects that in some cases can lead to mental health and addiction issues that need to be addressed. May people have talked about these issues including actor, writer and comedian, Ruby Wax who is also an advocate of mindfulness.
What is Mindfulness?
In modern therapy, ‘mindfulness’ is considered an effective approach to ‘letting off steam’ from our psyche. Essentially, it is our ability to be completely present in the ‘here and now’ through which the over-alert brain can take a well-deserved break.
The good news is that everyone, with a little practice, is capable of achieving mindfulness by retraining your mind. Mindfulness can be applied at every moment through simple steps, for example taking time to pause and breathe when the phone rings instead of rushing to answer it.
It stimulates the part of our brains that is underused during our typical day, putting some space between us and our reactions. We often run our life on autopilot through a set of conditioned responses neglecting the awareness that relaxes our mind and allows us to live to the full.
Meditation is known to be the best form of training to achieve mindfulness but there are other basic practices we can all do without formal training. Here are some tips:
- The ultimate goal of mindfulness is to pay attention to the present moment, without judgment. So, set some time in your daily schedule to perceive the present moment, as it is, with all your senses.
- Let your judgments ‘wash off’ you. When you feel judgments arise during your practice, make a mental note, and let them slip away from you. Refocus on the moment.
- Mindfulness may be defined as ‘the practice of returning’, regularly, to the present moment. The mind is naturally distracted by thoughts, so ensure that you return to perceiving the present moment as it is.
- Whatever thoughts come about during the practice, acknowledge them and try not to judge them. Simply try to recognise when your mind wanders off and gently bring it back. Always be kind to your mind.
The practice appears simple but it is not necessarily easy at first. With regular application, significant results will show in a relatively short time. You will be able to maintain an attitude of acceptance and know there is no right or wrong way to think or feel in a given moment. The short-term impact of mindfulness includes feeling more patient and calmer. This will allow you to enjoy, for example, a stroll in the park or tea and conversation with a friend.
If practised for longer periods, mindfulness has been shown to help change many aspects of life. In doing it we sense the present rather than dwelling on the past or speculating on the future.