Chances are you’ve heard of the term “mindfulness” – but what exactly is it, and is it something you should try?
Originally, mindfulness is a type of self-awareness training adapted from Buddhist mindfulness meditation. It’s about learning to pay attention to the present moment in an accepting and non-judgmental way.
Often, our mind can take us into negative thought spirals and before we realise it we are no longer aware (or mindful) of our surroundings or thoughts. Mindfulness can be helpful in learning to observe and become more aware of your experiences, as well as increasing your attentional control.
What are the goals of mindfulness?
There’s a lot you can potentially get out of practising mindfulness, including:
- learning to observe your experience of life in a new way
- achieving a state of alert, yet focused, relaxation
- regulating emotions more effectively
- enabling interactions with others in ways that are more rational and effective
How do you practice mindfulness?
It may sound complicated, but everyone of us has the capacity to be mindful – to disengage from the ‘clutter’ in our minds and focus on the present. It doesn’t require us to completely shut down or control our thoughts, but instead channel our energy towards the present moment. A daily mindfulness session can offer enormous benefits for anyone wishing to live a more fulfilled and connected life.
In practice, the technique of mindfulness is as simple as sitting in a quiet place, turning your mind’s attention to your body and your breathing, and focussing on the sounds and sensations around you.
Persistence is key
It is normal to find it difficult to practice mindfulness at first, or to become frustrated because your mind drifts to other thoughts. However, it is the very act of noticing that your mind has wandered and bringing it back to the exercise or task that is an important part of increasing the strength of your attention control.
With practice, you gradually learn to tame the constant chatter we all have in our minds. The guiding voice of a teacher or on an app can be particularly helpful if you are new to meditation exercises.
Is mindfulness evidence-based?
Mindfulness has been a hot topic for researchers over the last few years. One team of researchers reviewed more than 200 studies of mindfulness among healthy people and found mindfulness-based therapy was especially effective for reducing stress, anxiety and depression. Mindfulness can also help treat people with specific problems including depression, pain, smoking and addiction.
Mindfulness at Wise
Mindfulness is one of several evidence-based approaches to wellness that we offer at Wise Institute to empower you to live your best life. To read more about the different therapies we provide, visit our website.