What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a technique you can learn which involves making a special effort to notice what’s happening in the present moment (in your mind, body and surroundings) – without judging anything. It has roots in Buddhism and meditation, but you don’t have to be spiritual, or have any particular beliefs, to try it. While mindfulness is something we all naturally possess, it’s more readily available to us when we practice on a daily basis.
How mindfulness helps Mental Wellbeing
Becoming more aware of the present moment can help us enjoy the world around us more and understand ourselves better.When we become more aware of the present moment, we begin to experience afresh things that we have been taking for granted.
Mindfulness aims to help you:
- become more self-aware
- feel calmer and less stressed
- feel more able to choose how to respond to your thoughts and feelings
- cope with difficult or unhelpful thoughts
- be kinder towards yourself.
What’s it like to practise mindfulness?
Watch Rebecca, a mindfulness teacher, explain her understanding of mindfulness:
How to be more mindful
Reminding yourself to take notice of your thoughts, feelings, body sensations and the world around you is the first step to mindfulness.
Notice the everyday –
Noticing sensations such as the food we eat, or the air moving past our body as we walk
Keep it regular –
It can be helpful to pick a regular time for mindfulness– the morning journey to work or a walk at lunchtime
Try something new
Such as sitting in a different seat in meetings or going somewhere new for lunch. This can also help you notice the world in a new way.
Watch your thoughts
Some people find it very difficult to practice mindfulness. As soon as they stop what they’re doing, lots of thoughts and worries crowd in. It might be useful to remember that mindfulness isn’t about making these thoughts go away, but rather about seeing them as mental events.
Imagine standing at a bus station and seeing ‘thought buses’ coming and going without having to get on them and be taken away. This can be very hard at first, but with gentle persistence it is possible.
Name thoughts and feelings
To develop an awareness of thoughts and feelings, some people find it helpful to silently name them: “Here’s the thought that I might fail that exam”. Or, “This is anxiety”.
Free yourself from the past and future
You can practise mindfulness anywhere, but it can be especially helpful to take a mindful approach if you realise that, for several minutes, you have been “trapped” in reliving past problems or “pre-living” future worries.