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September 01, 2021


Your Best Mindfulness 


Mindfulness - often thrown under the same bracket as meditation, however they are in fact two separate things. Meditation can definitely be a form of mindfulness, but they are two different concepts. So let’s go over what mindfulness actually is, and some different examples of how you might be able to incorporate some mindfulness into your life in an effective and beneficial way.


So what is mindfulness?

By definition, mindfulness is the state of being conscious and aware by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while acknowledging and accepting all feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations. Not only does this emphasize the importance of being aware of what's happening in the present moment, but it also takes into consideration the principle of acceptance. This is something also discussed in a previous blog post, where we covered the principle of the acronym R.A.I.N. (link below). 

“I can’t meditate, therefore I can’t practise mindfulness”

We always hear it. “I can't meditate”, “I can't clear my mind”. The great thing about mindfulness is that it doesn't ask us to stop what we're thinking, nor think about something different. It actually draws our attention to what we're feeling in that given moment. So you don't have to completely cleanse your mind to complete mindfulness. Instead we are learning to embrace what's happening in that moment with curiosity and acceptance and without judgement, so not not being hard on ourselves for whatever we're feeling at a given time. 

Why can it be so challenging sometimes?

The concept of mindfulness can be very difficult, and the same goes for meditation. Humans are wired to perceive things through the lens of what we've experienced in the past, and draw on these conclusions to shape how we see the world. There is no doubt that this concept of the mind is really important - if we never made any correlations between experiences we've previously had, we wouldn't be able to make any sense of the world. For example, if you placed your hand on a hot stove, you would immiedately remove it. If this concept of drawing on past experiences didn't exist, there's every chance you'd stick your hand on that hot stove again. So this concept keeps us safe. However, being able to focus our attention away from what's happened previously and into what's happening in the present is equally important. Our thoughts are never new and they're not permanent either. They're an accumulation of experiences and thoughts that we've had over our lifespan. Some of these will make us feel good, and naturally, we're going to have ones throughout our life that make us feel not so good.  

Something that is really evident in this day and age is that we very rarely stop and observe what's really happening in the moment within our mind and body. We spend a lot of our time existing with what we think is going to happen in the future, or what's already happened, as opposed to narrowing our thoughts into what's happening in the there and now.

 A lot of people can interpret mindfulness as a form of positive thinking, and that's not quite true either. Positive thinking, and really aggressive positive thinking, can sometimes lead to the same repercussions as negative thoughts.

Finding your best mindfulness

Mindfulness can be broken into two categories - informal mindfulness (e.g. continuing with what you’re doing and narrowing our attention into what's happening in that moment) and formal mindfulness (e.g. sitting, eyes closed, soft music in the background, focusing all of your attention in on your breathing, listening to guided meditation).  

There's quite a lot of evidence to support the benefits of formal mindfulness. However for those who find that way more challenging, there are other ways to be mindful in a more informal sense. A really easy way to be mindful in the moment is to use our senses - sight, sound, smell, touch and taste. For example, when going for a walk, have a think what you can see when walking. What did you hear? What did you smell? When having a meal, what did the food taste like? Using your senses is a really nice way to become quite mindful, because if you're not consciously thinking about what could you hear while you're in the park, your mind's elsewhere. Obviously, a really nice way to become quite mindful is to narrow our focus in on our breathing as well. We discussed the importance of breathing, and the role that can play in managing your anxiety more specifically in another blog post (link below).

There are plenty of ways to be mindful, and we hope this provided a few ideas of what you can do to incorporate some mindfulness into your life. Thinking or even writing about the things you saw on a walk, what you felt while doing simple chores, or even a guided meditation. There is always a way to find your best mindfulness, simply 30 seconds out of your day can make a difference.

If you've got any questions or queries on what might be the best fit for you, please get in touch with one of us here in the clinic.

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