Mindfulness is growing in popularity and, as more research is being done all the time, it is proving to be a powerful tool in dealing with the stresses of modern day life.
Mindfulness techniques include meditation, which may be a turn off for some people. But we are not talking about Buddhist meditation, or a practice from any other religion, or indeed some sort of 'hippy far out' experience. Mindfulness meditation is accessible to all, and is a skill that can be learnt. It is not about clearing the mind (a very difficult thing to try and do), but about becoming aware of our thoughts, in a non-judgmental way and kindly letting them go.
There are several meditations that can be used in Mindfulness, each one with a different focus, for example the body scan meditation, which brings the awareness to each part of the body and is very good for relaxation. The three minute breathing space is a useful meditation when we are in a stressful situation, or just to prepare us for the day ahead, or to enable us to let go of the day we have just had. Only three minutes, and yet research is showing that three minutes of Mindfulness meditation can calm down our stress responses. That's something we would all want, isn't it!
Mindfulness meditation is centred on our breathing, something that we always have with us, and therefore we can access anywhere. Becoming aware of our breathing can anchor us to the present moment and bring peace to our busy minds, reducing stress. Meditating on our breathing is a very useful skill to learn.
Mindfulness asks us to be open to our experiences, not judging them as good or bad, but to be curious about them. It is about being aware, in the moment, of life as we are living it. It encourages us to let go of things that have past, which we cannot now change, and not to spend time planning for future things, of which we have no knowledge. It helps us to be patient, to trust, and to accept.
Mindfulness will help to develop kindness, compassion, gentleness and openness to both ourselves and others.
Mindfulness techniques are being looked at by various organisations, including the NHS, as a way of dealing with pain, with stress and anxiety, and with depression.
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