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THE ART OF MINDFULNESS
By Jade Ellis
“In today’s rush we all think too much, seek too much, want too much, and forget about the joy of just being.”- Eckhart Tolle
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness has been slowly rising in our collective consciousness since the 1950’s. This term translates to sati, which is an important part of most Buddhist traditions. It is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we are doing in that moment, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what is going on around us.
Mindfulness is often described as ‘achieving a mental state by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feeling, thoughts, bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.’
It is not obscure; it is something which is already familiar to us because it is something that we already do, how we already are. Being mindful is available to us in every moment. This can be through meditation, or mindful moment practices, such as taking time to pause and breathe when the phone rings, instead of rushing to answer it.
Does Mindfulness really work?
It can be described as living in the moment. The awareness that if we examine our thoughts and if we do not judge them, we can focus on each life experience. We can set our own intentions. This may sound very hippyish, and perhaps a fad, but there have actually been studies completed examining the effectiveness of mindfulness. Studies have shown that stress and fear contribute in a major way to mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety. Through these mindful actions we have the ability to alter our experience of the world for the better.
5 small steps to work Mindfulness into your day
- Set some time aside - All you need is some time and your mind!
- Observe the present moment as it is - The aim of mindfulness is not to try and quiet the mind or to achieve a state of eternal calm, but to simply pay attention to the present moment, without judgement.
- Let your judgements roll by - To have the ability to recognise our judgements, and allow them to pass.
- Return to observing the present moment as it is - It is easy for our minds to get carried away in thought. Mindfulness is the practice of returning, and to keep returning to the present moment.
- Be kind to your wandering mind - Do not judge yourself for whatever thoughts crop up, just practice recognizing when your mind has wandered off, and gently bring it back.
Building Inner Contentment & the Power of Positive Thinking!
Being mindful can be positive in so many different ways. For example, you can use it as a way to practice gratitude and it can be a very powerful antidote to negative thinking. This means being aware of what is happening around us and within us – which is the first step towards being grateful for what we have!
Creating an awareness of what we have, the appreciation of things that are going well in our lives, and developing a sort of daily gratitude can prevent negativity from clouding our vision. This may reinforce positive connections in the brain that can increase happiness. This is a very simple idea, yet extremely effective.
Some say that if we are anxious, we spend too much time thinking about the future, and if we are depressed, we are dwelling on the past. There can be other factors involved, but the simple act of staying present, is said to keep us centred and give us a greater appreciation for life. We can look at the world more objectively, as see things are they are, not as we are – freeing us from the tendency to live in our own minds.
Recharge the mind throughout your day!
Mindfulness is starting to grow in popularity and there are even Mindfulness cafés starting to pop up. One in particular in London even has a ‘Meditation station’ with serene meditation pods both with 5-7 minute guided meditations. You can settle into your pod, recharge, and then head back out into your day feeling refreshed and de-stressed.
This is a great way to split up your busy, and incorporate an activity which is actually going to be beneficial for both your mind and your body!
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