Mindfulness is about being aware of your present experience with acceptance - being conscious of what you're doing, seeing and experiencing - whether that's tying your shoe laces, walking on the beach, or sitting quietly being present without the usual distractions (including phones and technology) while being aware of feelings as they arise as the observer without being overwhelmed by them. Mindfulness is often mistaken as mediation - which in basic terms is about quietening the mind.
Mindfulness practise is increasingly being used in the medical world to assist with many different personal difficulties including anxiety, depression, trauma and brain injury recovery - after many years of successful use in the more alternative holistic industry - with huge successes rates. Mindfulness aims to help us master our emotions, heal out relationships (with ourselves and others) and help each of us reach our fullest potential. When our emotions are controlling us, we are out of control. When we can manage our emotions, we can manage our lives and the path forward to create the life we want; it’s a goal well worth striving for.
The following 3 Mindfulness techniques are based on techniques discussed in my favourite book on the subject titled ‘Mindsight’ by Daniel J Siegal – acclaimed doctor, psychiatrist and brain scientist.
1. Practice being in the moment for a period of time while doing an activity – choose an activity where you can focus on what you’re doing, experiencing, feeling, seeing and hearing. Aim to stay focused and be ok that distracted thinking may occur. When you become distracted gently bring your conscious focus back on your activity and your experience. Suggested conscious activities could include:
- Walking on the beach feeling the sand between your toes, the wind on your face and the sound of waves - or even more simply the feeling of your feet stepping one step at a time
- Sitting outdoors quietly
- Floating in water or having a shower or bath
- Lying down feeling the sun, air and noise around you
2. Sit or lie quietly where people, animals and insects won’t disturb you. Focus on your breath and quieten the mind (alike to mediation). Move your attention from one part of the body to another for a period of time – this is called a ‘body scan’ – systematically moving from your toes to your nose. Consider starting with shorter periods of time increasing to longer periods of time.
3. Again sit or lie quietly where people, animals and insects won’t disturb you. This time focus on your mind:
OPT 1. Imagine that your active thinking mind is the outer rim of a bicycle rim with the centre of the rim being the ‘quiet mind’ area. Focus on your breath and staying in the quiet centre. When thoughts come into your conscious mind, acknowledge the thoughts then send the thoughts to the outer rim; knowing that you can access later when you choose to.
OPT 2. Imagine that your active thinking mind is the top of the ocean – full of activity including waves and the flow of tidal water coming in and out (like your thoughts). Imagine sinking into the depths of the ocean to a quiet safe spot - where you can still access the ocean top if you choose too – focusing on your breath and the quietness. Again when thoughts come into your conscious mind, acknowledge the thoughts then send them to the otop of the ocean; knowing that you can access these thoughts later when you choose to.
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I personally have used mindfulness techniques to assist with many things incuding focus, stress and to promote healing. I urge each of you to investigate Mindfulness further for yourselves.