Present Moment As Resource
Taking a few minutes time out to just pay attention to whatever it is we are actually doing or experiencing can be very restorative to our frazzled nervous systems and busy minds. Our minds tend to constantly move between worrying or planning for the future or ruminating about the past, rather than actually being present to what is happening in the here-and-now of our lives. Mindfulness has been shown to be very beneficial to our wellbeing.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness teaches us how to be aware of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations and moods and as they are, in the moment. It's about seeing things as they are they are, and not as we would like them to be. When we pay attention to how we are thinking and feeling right now, we become better at noticing the build up of difficult emotions and thoughts so that we can deal with them more proactively and skillfully, instead of just reacting in habitual ways which may be harmful us.
Mindfulness helps us to see and understand that thoughts are just thoughts. Our thoughts are not facts and we can choose whether to give them power over our minds and hearts. Our minds tend to get locked into the negative aspects of an experience while ignoring the positive. We tend to follow well-worn grooves of automatic pilot both in our thoughts and feelings, not recognising that our habits, which may once have been necessary, may now have become unhelpful. Mindfulness can help us to choose where to put our attention, so we can begin to learn to pause automatic thoughts/behaviours and respond instead of react. As we learn to step out of habitual patterns, we can experience greater freedom and choice.
Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn is internationally known for his work as a writer, scientist, and meditation teacher. His pioneering research focused on mind/body interactions for healing and on the clinical applications of mindfulness meditation for people managing chronic pain and stress-related disorders. His work has won numerous awards and contributed to a growing movement of mindfulness into mainstream institutions such as medicine, and psychology, health care and schools.
Some of the potential benefits of mindfulness
An increased connection with our body, enabling us to act more in it’s interests
Improved personal relationships, becoming less reactive, less stressed and happier
A greater acceptance of troublesome thoughts and emotions. Mindfulness also allows us to let go of these before they can develop and have a negative impact on us
There is growing medical evidence that regular meditation makes positive improvements to the way the brain works and also other aspects of the body.
Improvements to memory, concentration and cognitive ability
A reduction in levels of stress and anxiety
Improved immune function
An improved ability to fall to sleep at night
Experience of feeling connected
Decreased Depressive Symptoms
An improved relationship with pain
A general feeling of wellbeing
A rise in productivity brought about by being able to deal with distractions more effectively.
Increased creativity brought about by being able to let go of doubts that otherwise might be a hindrance to creativity
Mindfulness has been shown to be a good resource for people suffering from stress, anxiety, depression, and addictions amongst other things. It can increase our capacity to cope and is something we can do for us to support ourselves, easily incorporating it into our lives. We can actively choose to slow down whatever it is we are doing (eating a snack, washing the dishes, brushing our teeth) and do it with our full attention so we become more present in our lives.
Here are some links to sites which give free mindfulness instruction so you can begin to explore it for yourself if you so choose. In addition to this there is a wide range of youtube videos with guided instructions online.
Body Scan Exercise by Jon Kabat-Zinn for you to try out. It takes 30 minutes.
Here are some links to the health benefits of mindfulness practice