Mindfulness practises have been extensively researched to show that they can effectively help us manage our emotions and mental health as well as having long term neurological effects to allow us to feel less anxious and more at ease. However, with a knowledge of what is good for us, often we do not practise this.
For example, it’s well known that exercise and healthy eating is good for us. Just knowing this is not enough to motivate us to look after ourselves in the best of ways. Healthy coping mechanisms, such as exercise and healthy eating, as well as Mindfulness practises, often take a little effort. They often take a little more effort than unhealthy coping mechanisms as it’s easier to reach for comfort food and watch some mindless television than to go out for a run. It’s easier (and possibly encouraged where we have social kudos) to reach for alcohol on a Friday evening rather than meditating.
Preparing healthy foods, meditating or doing some exercise takes a little effort, however, it brings much greater rewards. Where healthy coping mechanisms tend to make us feel better, unhealthy ones bring instant gratification then make us feel worse often both physically and mentally.
Practising mindfulness can be a way to feel good quickly with little effort. Mindfulness seeks to allow us to intentionally be in the very moment to experience and accept our world at that time as it is. To truly be. It’s a way of directing attention and is described as intentionally focusing ones attention on the experience of the present moment in a non-judgemental or accepting manner (Kabat-Zinn, 1990).
When we look to practise mindfulness, as with meditation, we can easily give up. Some of the main reasons we give up are –
- My mind wanders off – This is normal and it’s important to try to become aware and to escort your thoughts back to focusing on the present whether you’re mindfully eating or practising a breathing technique or meditating.
- I do not feel I’m doing it right – it’s important to accept we will not practise mindfulness perfectly.
- I do not have time – Any regular practise requires making time for it. We schedule in time for food, cleaning our teeth, television meaning we can make time if we really want to.
Mindfulness is an awareness of present experience with acceptance where mindful attendance includes a stance of compassion, interest, friendliness and open-heartedness toward the experience being observed in the present moment, regardless of how pleasant or aversive it may be. The benefits of being mindful can be huge as detailed in a previous blog-post – Benefits of Mindfulness. The next post will provide links and information on specific practises you can try.
As always, please feel free to comment or contact me if I can be of any assistance.