Mindfulness. Do you really understand what that word means? I’ve mentioned my interest in mindfulness on my blog before but have never really gone into detail of what it really means.
Before we take a look at the meaning of the word ‘Mindfulness’, let’s have a think about modern-day living and how it can take a toll on our minds and bodies. Here are some examples:
- Too often we do things on auto-pilot. How often have you driven somewhere but when you get there – you can’t remember driving there, or you automatically drive somewhere you drive to often when really you meant to go somewhere else? I used to automatically drive to the train station because that is where I went every day. Many times I found myself there when really I was meant to be going somewhere else!
- Life whizzes by and we don’t notice the beauty that surrounds us or we’re in too much of a rush to move on to the next thing that we don’t notice or enjoy the present moment. Our minds are so busy with so many thoughts (what we need to get done, what happened yesterday, what we have to do tomorrow, what we want to achieve in the future etc) that we tend to not notice what is happening now (the present).
- Constant thinking is exhausting! Not only that but often we are stressed and don’t even realise it. I know first hand that stress is so NOT good for you – particularly when you are stressed over an extended period of time. Whether we are introverts or extroverts, every human being needs some down time, a break from the busy’ness of living our lives and more importantly – the busy’ness of our minds!! Ever wish you had an on/off switch? I know I have!
- Ruminative thinking! Many of us do this! It’s like a record that’s stuck and keeps repeating the same lyrics. It’s replaying an argument with a friend in your mind. It’s retracing past mistakes. When people ruminate, they over-think or obsess about situations or life events, such as work or relationships.
My interest in mindfulness arose from challenging times during 2012 which saw me suffer with chronic stress, the black dog (I call him the Big D) and also anxiety (who I think of as a she). I have also always had a very active and busy mind (planning, planning, dwelling, dwelling, worrying, worrying, organising, organising etc etc). My mind was like a pinball machine – always pinging from one thought to another and rarely stopping. It was very hard to switch off at night and my sleep suffered as a result! I say ‘was’ because it has improved a lot these days but is still far from perfect!
So let’s look at what Mindfulness means! Here are some quotes that are a good start.
Mindfulness is a gift of time, the permission to slow down and be present, to experience life as we live it and to discover who we really are in the process. – Lisa Firestone
The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it. – Thich Nhat Hanh
Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgementally. This kind of attention nurtures greater awareness, clarity, and acceptance of present moment reality. – Jon Kabat Zinn
Refuge to the man is the mind. Refuge to the mind is mindfulness. – Buddha
I’ve recently begun reading books that talk of mindfulness. First I read ‘The Power of Now’ by Eckhart Tolle. This book had a big impact on me and has driven me to read and learn more on how to live more ‘mindfully’ in the present.
Now I’m reading ‘The Mindful Way through Depression – Freeing yourself from chronic unhappiness’ by Mark Williams, John Teasdale, Zindel Segal, and Jon Kabat-Zinn. From the name of this book, you may not realise that it is largely about mindfulness and teaches mindfulness practices. When I read the description of what this book aims to teach, I knew I had to read it. The book comes with a CD of meditation practices that teach the art of mindfulness. I have not yet listened to the CD as I want to finish the book first. I do not believe that you need to have or have had depression to benefit from reading this book. I think that learning mindfulness practices would benefit everyone!
A quote from the book on mindfulness:
Mindfulness is not paying more attention but paying attention differently and more wisely – with the whole mind and heart, using the full resources of the body and its senses.
Here is an example from the book of a simple exercise as an introduction to mindfulness.
Mindfulness is an incredible tool to reduce ruminative thinking, improve concentration, learn to be more receptive rather than reactive, build resilience and lessen the likelihood of recurrent depression / anxiety. It allows you to slow down, become present in the moment and discover who you really are in the process.
There is so much more to tell about Mindfulness and mindfulness practices. I’m still reading and learning, but I think there will be more posts on this topic. I will also do a wrap up of the book I’m reading at the moment – ‘The Mindful Way through Depression – Freeing Yourself from Chronic Unhappiness‘ when I have finished (I’m about 1/2 way through and have yet to listen to and do the meditations on the accompanying CD).
Meanwhile, if you try the raisin exercise, let me know how you found it!
Ciao for now.
Linking up with Essentially Jess for #IBOT
Categories: Health, Wellbeing, Happiness