What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a technique that enables you to bring awareness to the present moment. It should be in a non-judgmental, kind and compassionate way. This isn’t about emptying the mind as you will actually bring awareness to your thoughts and physical sensations. As they come, gently acknowledge them with curiosity and kindness. Then let them go. We will use a technique to anchor the practice by focusing on the breath, this helps to maintain your awareness and build your mental muscle.
Our thoughts play an important role in how we see the world and they can also have a dramatic effect (both good and not so positive) on your health and wellbeing.
A lot of what we experience in our bodies is a result of the innate functions of the brain.
Our autonomic nervous system is powerful and includes the sympathetic nervous system which prepares the body for the fight and flight response. There’s also the parasympathetic nervous system which restores the body to a calm and composed state.
Because our thoughts are so powerful, it’s helpful to bring awareness to them through mindfulness practice. Focusing on your thoughts with kindness and compassion, letting them come and go, can bring a sense of being present (psychologically, physically and emotionally). Approaching this in a non-judgmental way helps to make you more in tune with yourself and more connected to the world.
We all have a ‘chattering mind’ with a constant stream of thoughts, desires, dreams, fears, self-doubt and self-criticism. Quite often these dwell on past events or catastrophize about the future. These are natural, we all have them. Mindfulness helps to create space for more positive thoughts. By focusing on the here and now, everything else can quietly come into perspective enabling a sense of control and empowerment. Your thinking can become clearer.
Benefits of mindfulness
Mindfulness has been studied in depth and has been show to help:
- Relieve stress
- Calm anxiety
- Reduce chronic pain
- Improve sleep
- Improves mental health
- Boost cognitive functions
- Improve focus and concentration
- Settle a busy mind
- Manage reactions
- Develop a sense of self-connection
“Whenever your mind becomes scattered, use your breath as the means to take hold of your mind again.”
Thich Nhat Hanh