Mindfulness is a mental state achieved by focussing your attention on the present moment and simultaneously acknowledging and accepting thoughts and physical feelings. This awareness of being present inthe moment can enable you to create mental space to respond in new and different ways to situations.
Incorporating mindfulness into your daily life can help you reduce stress and anxiety. Whilst we aren’t always able to entirely control our lives, being mindful can be a valuable part of your mental toolkit and can enable you to enjoy life more and understand yourself better.
Whilst it is a bit of a buzz word currently there is nothing new about mindfulness, as a practice it is thousands of years old and thought to have originated in Buddhist thinking and meditation practice over two and a half thousand years ago. Its purpose was to address and relieve self-induced suffering arising from the dysfunctional ways people tend to react and respond to experiences.
Perhaps the increasing pressures of our modern, connected world and the associated difficulties of switching off from technology are contributing to the recent surge in popularity of practicing mindfulness and over the last 30 years ithas become increasingly secularised and simplified to suit a Western context.
Mindfulness can help to promote a deeper awareness and understanding of your mental state; increasingly children are being taught mindfulness which can have multiple and long-term benefits in all aspects of their lives and well being.
In the UK, the Mindfulness in Schools Project offers a course providing a way into mindfulness that students find fun, accessible and of genuine use in their lives; its success has led to it being taught in 12 countries, and translated into different languages.
A mindful learning revolution is taking place in Australian schools, where teachers are turning to positive education, mindfulness and strength-based teaching. An emphasis on positive reinforcement seems to be improving student wellbeing and behaviour (we posted about this on Twitter and Facebook on 3rd July).
Take a look at Action for Happiness which is an amazing movement (with the Dalai Lama as its patron) aiming to increase wellbeing in homes, workplaces, schools and local communities. Their vision is a happier world, with fewer people suffering from mental health problems, and more people feeling good, functioning well and helping others.
Here are some of our top tips to help you to be more mindful every day.
Remind yourself to take notice of your thoughts, feelings, body sensations and the world around you every day.
Notice the everyday
Whatever you do every day, from cleaning your teeth, to doing the washing up, to paying attention to the food you eat - if you take time to notice the sensations of what you are doing it can have the power to help you get ‘unstuck’ from your automatic routines and can give you the ability to look at life with a fresh perspective.
Try something new
Just sit in a different chair or take a different route to work - anything new and different can help you to see and experience the world differently.
Free yourself from the past and future
Taking a mindful approach can be beneficial if you ‘catch’ yourself dwelling on past problems or regrets, or worrying about future potential issues; allow yourself to be aware of your thoughts and feelings and observe them.
If you find your mind is too busy, adopting regular gentle exercise can help you to cope and relax. Try walking or yoga or whatever you enjoy doing, and remember that exercise can help reduce stress as well as help you be healthy.
Try to make healthy food choices and be mindful of what you are eating. Take time to appreciate meals, eat slowly and be aware of how eating makes you feel.
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