Mindfulness – An Introduction

Mindfulness is a simple yet powerful way of paying attention to your most difficult emotions and life experiences. Mindfulness can help you break the cycle of chronic unhappiness, depression, anxiety and worry once and for all.

Mindfulness is the process of paying attention to yourself. This means paying attention to your feelings, thoughts, actions and choices all within the context of the present “now”.

Mindfulness is about being fully present. It is about being present in the present and living within the current moment in an alert and aware state aware of whatever is happening. It is not about stilling the mind or removing all sensations or thoughts from the mind. Mindfulness is about becoming aware of all that is happening within yourself, regardless of what it is, and also using your breathing as an anchor in order to access and manage it.

Many individuals who experience emotional distress, illness, stress, chronic pain, depression or worries have a tendency to lose the beliefs that they can shift their lives into a more manageable state. Mindfulness is able to increase your ability to acknowledge and accept states of emotional and physical distress. It not only helps with the difficult aspects of life, but it can also provide a place of support and stability for all times.

Mindfulness in itself is not a treatment, but a way of being. However, mindfulness practiced regularly is able to ease and treat anxiety, depression and many mental health problems. Mindfulness is something that can be incorporated into your life with each passing moment, over the entire span of your lifetime. You cannot buy mindfulness or inject into yourself, but it can be cultivated and nurtured.

The central components of mindfulness are compassion and kindness, most importantly towards yourself. None of us thrive on criticism and sensor. Theses two negatives may spur us on to achieve, but being judged, criticised and attacked as little true value.

A short history of mindfulness

The concept of mindfulness is part of Buddhist teachings, and is over two and a half thousand years old. The ability to pay attention to the present moment in time, and gain profound insight from it is done through focusing on your breathing in an intentional manner. This focus promotes and supports openness, awareness and acceptance.

Buddhist teachings refer to the bustling commotion that is going on within our minds as a “monkey mind”. This is a very apt description and it can conjure up the image of the frantic noise and activity that goes on within our minds on a daily basis. If you find the image of a monkey swinging from branch to branch with its shrill voice unfamiliar, then other analogies such as a hamster on a wheel or a flea in a bottle may fit better. The energy and liveliness of all these animals is to be admired, so the aim is not to banish the monkey, hamster or flea or to force it under control, but to gently quieten its frenzy.

Focused attention

The word meditation is often associated with sitting cross-legged, half clothed in a trance-like state. Within the context of mindfulness, meditation refers to focusing attention on that most automatic of bodily functions, your breathing, in a way that harnesses your ability to attend to and manage yourself as you progress through life.

Mindfulness is a Buddhist practice that has crossed the East-West divide and has found a valuable place amongst psychologists, doctors, scientists and professionals as well as many others. The benefits of meditation, which accompany a practice of mindfulness, and with which it is interwoven have been researched and shown to be effective in such areas as helping people cope with symptoms of depression, anxiety, stress, chronic pain, addictions, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, hypertension, chronic heart disease, arthritis and cancer amongst others.

If you combine mindfulness with psychological awareness then it provides you with the opportunity to consider your life and choices and to take responsibility for these in a respectful and welcoming manner. It is important to note that this is not a cure for the psychological or medical conditions, But it is a process that can assist in the management and treatment of symptoms associated with them.

Sacrifices and payoffs

Developing a mindful approach to life in encourages a deeper and more active experience of life events, for whatever their purpose. It supports awareness of your physical movements and breathing, as well as your emotional and mental processes. Developing a regular mindfulness practice will develop and strengthen your resilience and capacity to deal with the stresses and complexities of everyday life.

Mindfulness allows you to create a greater skill of being present within the moment and immediacy of your experiences. Thus enabling and helping you both to accept them and to utilise your own resources and skills to manage or enjoy them.

Mindfulness is an effective way to treat anxiety, depression and many mental health issues.

A mindful approach looks to expand and emphasise your own potential and abilities, rather than to assume that external factors and processes will make a difference.

The difficult aspect of mindfulness, is that it requires patience, practice, an open-minded approach and a willingness to attend to your life and problems within your life. Mindfulness encourages being open to your mental and emotional worlds and to consider the choices you make in your life, as you are responsible for them.

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