Health, Wellbeing, Happiness

Mindfulness

Mindfulness

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 readThe 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.

Raisin ExerciseMakes you realise how much we are missing when we shovel food into our mouths mindLESSly doesn’t it?!

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.

MinPostSignature

Linking up with Essentially Jess for #IBOT

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21 replies »

  1. Very interesting post Min. I found all this subject very interesting when you wrote about it on my blog. When you see it as a list like this, it’s insane how much we are missing out because we are too busy running all the time. I think it’s also that we take too many things for granted in life…

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    • I’m glad you find it interesting Rita. I do too. It takes conscious concentration to live mindfully but I’m guess with time and practice it would come with more ease. We do miss so much and you’re right, we do take too many things for granted. Min xo

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    • I think mindfulness at first needs to be a conscious decision and needs lots of practice. I’m hoping that with time and practice it will come more naturally. Yes – it would be useful with parenting! 😉 Min xo

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  2. I have to admit I have never been particularly mindful of certain things especially what I was consuming foodwise daily….I have started really being more mindful of what goes into my mouth…..am totally going to use the Raisin test in the near future xx

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    • It sure does Lisa. To be mindful means your whole concentration and senses are focussed on the present therefore stopping all the excessive monkey mind business. The added bonus is that you experience so much more 🙂 Min xo

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  3. I am very aware I need to be more mindful, but you are right when you are constantly thinking, worrying, organising, ruminating, it is very difficult to get a hold of yourself, stop and look at the raisin.
    I try to pick myself up often. Maybe this exercise will be the thing that finally sets the light bulb off 🙂

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    • It takes a conscious decision to be mindful Becc – at first anyway. I’m thinking that if practised frequently, with time it will come more naturally. It’s a matter of starting with one or two conscious acts of mindfulness per day. Practice, practice, practice! 😉 Min xo

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  4. love this post – the mind you described is exactly how mine always was (and is at times). i also just totally grabbed that quote to add into the mindfulness part of my upcoming ebook. I love Jon Kabat-Zinn (do you have everyday blessings – his parenting book with his wife? excellent book!) deb xx

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    • Thanks Deb! Sympathies for having a mind like mine! LOL Mine has much improved but I still have my moments. Glad you found a quote you liked. No – I don’t have his parenting book. I’ll have to do a google search and learn more about him. Totally intrigued as to what your eBook is about. Look forward to reading it! Min xo

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  5. I’ve learned a lot about the benefits of Mindfulness working with a psychology firm over the past 9 months xxx

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  6. I am really trying to work on this but sadly, am failing badly at it 😦
    Thank you for reminding me about being mindful of where I am and what I am doing.
    Have the best day !
    Me

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    • You’re not failing at it Linda. It takes practice and a conscious decision to do it. It doesn’t come naturally to me (yet anyway). I have to decide to do something mindfully and put all my focus on it. Just a matter of deciding, doing and repeating 😉 Hope you’ve had a great day! Min xo

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  7. This is very important to me as I am a chronic pain sufferer and I also overthink things ,and I do practise meditation sometimes not as often as I should though! It is sometimes hard to switch off and catch the house at the quiet time of the day but I endeavour to change that and do it well,we all should,life is so hectic and we worry about cleaning cooking and silly things(well I do ).I love this Post Min Thankyou.

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    • So glad you enjoyed this post Lisa. It is hard to find a quiet time for meditation. I know – with 3 young adults, 2 dogs and a hubby!! It’s worth finding the time though – to quieten the mind and find some calm within 🙂 xo

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