Mindfulness

Mindfulness

Mindfulness has been shown to be an effective stress reduction practice. It has become incorporated into many therapeutic approaches and there are increasingly more therapy frameworks being developed with mindfulness at their core.

Mindfulness as a stress management and emotional regulation strategy is made up of a number of skills, all of which require practice.

CATEGORY: Life & Coping Skills

SOURCES: APS | verywellmind.com | BMD

Number: #26

 

Baby Chimpanzee Resting In Tree
Smiling Happy Dog Lying In Grass 2
Chimpanzee With His Fingers In His Ears
Gorilla Looks Contemplative

 

A study released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ National Study of Mental Health and Wellbeing in 2023 (5,500 people aged 16 to 85 years old during 2020-2021) showed that more than two in five Australians experience a mental health issue in their lifetime. In 2020–21 more than 3.4 million Australians sought help from a health care professional for their mental health.

The study is published at https://abs.gov.au/statistics/health/mental-health/national-study-mental-health-and-wellbeing/2020-21

Mindfulness is made up of a number of skills, all of which require practice.

Awareness

One skill of mindfulness is learning how to focus your attention on one thing at a time. This includes being aware of and able to recognise all the things that are going on around you (for example, sights and sounds), as well as all the things that are going on inside you (for example, thoughts and feelings).

Nonjudgemental/Nonevaluative Observation

This skill is focused on looking at your experiences in a nonjudgemental way. That is, simply looking at things in an objective way as opposed to labeling them as either “good” or “bad.” An important part of this skill is self-compassion.

Being in the Present Moment

Part of mindfulness is being in touch with the present moment as opposed to being caught up in thoughts about the past (also called rumination) or the future (or worry). An aspect of this skill is being an active participant in experiences instead of just “going through the motions” or “being stuck on auto-pilot.”

Beginner’s Mind

This skill of mindfulness focuses on being open to new possibilities. It also refers to observing or looking at things as they truly are, as opposed to what we think they are or evaluate them to be. For example, going into a situation with a preconceived notion of how things will turn out can colour your experience. This can prevent you from getting in touch with the true experience.

A Mindfulness Exercise

Below is a simple mindfulness exercise you can try. Have  alook at the tips listed first, as these can be really helpful before you give the exercise a try.

 

TIPS

Before you try this exercise, it may be useful to first simply practice breathing. This may sound silly, but many people breathe too quickly and from the chest, rather than breathing deeply from the diaphragm.

Make this exercise a habit. Practice this exercise at least once a day.

At first, it may be important to practice this exercise at times when you are not overly stressed-out or anxious. When you were first learning to drive a car, you likely didn’t start out on the highway during a thunderstorm. The same goes for mindfulness.

Remember, it is normal for your mind to wander during this exercise. That’s what it does. Don’t get discouraged. Instead, at times like this, it may be useful to think of mindfulness in this way: If your mind wanders away from the breath a thousand times, mindfulness is about bringing your attention back to the present moment a thousand and one times.

 

EXERCISE

So often in our lives, we are stuck in our heads, caught up in the anxiety and worries of daily life. This exercise will introduce you to mindfulness and may be helpful getting you “out of your head” and in touch with the present moment.

  1. Find a comfortable position either lying on your back or sitting. If you are sitting down, make sure that you keep your back straight and release the tension in your shoulders. Let them drop.
  2. Close your eyes.
  3. Focus your attention on your breathing. Simply pay attention to what it feels like in your body to slowly breathe in and out.
  4. Now bring your attention to your belly. Feel your belly rise and expand every time you breathe in. Feel your belly fall every time you breathe out.
  5. Continue to focus your attention on the full experience of breathing. Immerse yourself completely in this experience. Imagine you are “riding the waves” of your own breathing.
  6. Anytime that you notice your mind has wandered away from your breath (it likely will and this is completely normal!), simply notice what it was that took your attention away and then gently bring your attention back to the prsent moment – your breathing.
  7. Continue as long as you would like!

Therapy | Treatment

 

As you go about your day, try to find as many opportunities as you can to practice mindfulness. The more you practice, the easier it will become to bring mindful awareness to your life experiences.

Technology can be the opposite of something conducive to mindfulness. Yet for those who love being connected, you may find that there are a number of ways to center yourself with mindfulness technology. There are plenty of apps for example that help you practice mindfulness.