“Mindfulness has the capacity to change the world from the inside out, one person at a time”. Joseph Goldstein
People are getting more and more interested in the science backed topic of Mindfulness as a pathway to a better quality of life. Now it’s being taught in the European Parliament, in various Health Services, in schools and in prisons – as well as being offered by large organisations such as Google.
Research has found Mindfulness to be effective in reducing stress, improving sleep, increasing resilience and in developing emotional intelligence. It appears to be at least as good as medication for the treatment of clinical level depression. And it has been shown to lower the risk of hypertension together with lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease.
The good news is that you can learn how to practise Mindfulness through good self -help books, by attending a course run by a properly trained teacher or by attending a suitably qualified therapist.
So what is Mindfulness?
Ever noticed when you’re doing something familiar and repetitive like doing housework or washing the car that your mind is miles away thinking of other things? Ever taken a journey and not remembered anything about it on reaching your destination? You’re not focusing on your current task and experience – you’re running on autopilot!
Mindfulness offers us a way of freeing ourselves from automatic and unhelpful ways of thinking and responding. We are human beings, not human doings and Mindfulness helps us experience what is happening in the here and now – in thought, body and feelings.
Many philosophical and religious traditions teach that happiness is to be found by living in the moment – mindfulness practitioners are trained to resist mind wandering and to try to remain in the “here and now”.
Usually we spend too much time thinking about the past “why didn’t I?” or the future “if only I …” and when we do this regretting or projecting we miss out on the most important thing in our lives -what’s happening right now !
By paying close attention to what is happening now, moment by moment, mindfulness practise begins to create a distance between us and our habitual thought patterns. This allows us to be present in each fresh moment and it improves the quality of our lives significantly.
Regular mindfulness practise could increase your sense of wellbeing, improve sleep and bring about a fresh zest for life. People also report that they experience increased levels of acceptance and feel quite a lot calmer about matters that used to make them angry or anxious.
As a psychotherapist I am often surprised at how using mindfulness interventions can quickly and significantly help clients to calm down, reduce anxiety and to get a clearer perspective on issues. Most clients say that they experience major changes and benefits through mindfulness practise. Oh – and it can even help to make mundane tasks like housework and dish washing enjoyable.
Perhaps you’ll consider giving it a try?