By Catherine Hamilton and Karen Tidsall
Mindfulness is the awareness, which arises through bringing your full attention into the present moment without judgement, without the mind commentating. Mindfulness is about coming to your senses – what you can hear, see, smell and touch and then becoming totally absorbed in the sensation – sound of bird song, the smell of a flower, the gurgle of a river, the tone of your child’s voice. This can give rise to a deep sense of peace.
Never Underestimate the Power of a Small Pause
Breathe. Checking in with yourself for even 60 seconds, several times a day, can help you stay connected with yourself and to what’s important to you and your day. It is a crucial technique in being productive and creative.
Be the observer of your thoughts to maintain perspective
Our automatic tendencies can be problematic. We have an inbuilt tendency to focus on the negative. Whilst the negativity bias may have an evolutionary advantage of keeping us alive in hostile environments – this isn’t necessarily so constructive in the less hostile but more complex modern environment we find ourselves in.
So with something like unhelpful thinking we can observe that it’s happening, without being scared of it, and then give our attention to something that’s more useful. This may be the task at hand, being in a meeting, talking with someone, writing an email. It’s useful to remind ourselves that thoughts can be like transient visitors, or like clouds that either dissolve or pass on by, leaving clear blue tranquillity”.
Paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, non – judgmentally
Mindfulness is about becoming aware of what’s going on without being pushed and pulled around. This enables us to make better choices about how we respond to whatever we are facing.
It is about training attention, but just as important is how we pay attention, what we might call the attitude we bring to whatever we are attending to. Here non-judgemental refers to the negative judgements that we can get caught up in. And also, our tendency to pre-judge things which, in our fast-paced world, can cause unnecessary anxiety or problems.
Benefits of mindfulness:
Increased focus and concentration
Giving our mind one thing to keep track of, to replace the whole range of things it is usually preoccupied with. By bringing our mind back again and again to where we want it to be enhances our powers of concentration. Like training a muscle at the gym.
Increased attention regulation
Our mind is a powerful tool but we need to ensure we do not over work it. The frontal lobe brain networks are responsible for reasoning, planning, decision making and judgement. Mindfulness trains our mind to be less reactive, more stable. Being aware when we become distracted or when our thoughts are racing off into another disaster scenario and becoming used to returning our mind to the present moment.
Increased emotional regulation
Having the ability to recognise strong feelings, be aware of them and of the impact they are having. Over time, we can regulate those emotions more skilfully.
This practice, of paying attention in the moment, over time sharpens our antennae. It enables us to see things more clearly, both externally e.g. what is going on in your job and at work; and internally – Our own thoughts and feelings.
Eckhart Tolle has useful guidance on developing Presence and Mindfulness.
Try this 3-minute body scan exercise
Heart of living Yoga Meditations to help you relax and be in the present moment.
Feeling revved up from the busyness of your day? Try this body scan Mindfulness exercise EVERY EVENING. If you have trouble getting to sleep or waking in the night, daily practice will very quickly guide your mind to ‘switch off ‘and get to sleep.
Headspace app- The Headspace app provides a series of meditation sessions.
It includes regular mindfulness practice through meditation, is an effective treatment for stress, worry, lack of focus, relationship problems, addictions and more. It leads to peace of mind and wellbeing, greater focus and creativity and better relationships.