Do you mind if I tell you about mindfulness?
I often hesitate before suggesting mindfulness to my clients. I worry that they will think I am trying to recruit them into some kind of cult, or austere meditation practice. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Mindfulness in a nutshell
Mindfulness is about paying attention to the present moment with compassion, curiosity and acceptance.
The main way to do this is to try and focus not on your thoughts, or anything that is happening around you, but on your own breathing. It's like having your very own "pause" button.
Of course, the world will carry on, doing what it does, and lots of thoughts will come into your head. Don't be too hard on yourself, you're human! The key here is not to react to those thoughts, or judge yourself or try to get rid of them. Just notice and acknowledge that they exist and bring your attention gently back to your breathing.
You don't need to breathe in any special way, you don't need to sit in a particular way, you don't even need to close your eyes. You just need to be comfortable, and in a safe place, where you can spend at least a few moments focusing on your in breath and your out breath. Bring some curiosity to the sensation of simply breathing, noticing how it feels as the air enters and leaves your body.
Mindfulness is a practice that is available to you at any time.
Benefits of mindfulness
Mindfulness can enable you to develop self-acceptance and compassion for yourself. It helps to calm the mind, and is beneficial for stress, anxiety and depression. It can boost resilience and help you gain control over your reactions in difficult or challenging situations.
If you are having counselling, practising mindfulness is a good way of coping with difficult feelings in between your sessions.
This was just the briefest of introductions to mindfulness, but many things are achievable in the briefest of moments.
If you would like to know more, two enjoyable books are:
"Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Finding Peace in a Frantic World" by Mark Williams and Danny Penman
"Mindfulness for Dummies" by Shamesh Alidina
Both of these books have CD's with guided meditations of varying lengths.
Other books are, of course, available!
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