The topic of mindfulness has become an extremely popular one in recent times and although today it has been adopted by psychology its origins date back thousands of years as part of the Buddhist tradition. As our lives have become busier and busier it has become all the more necessary.
So what is Mindfulness?
In simple terms it is focusing the mind with intention on a particular thing. It is observing that particular thing with curiosity and without judgement. It requires complete attention and the constant coaxing of the mind to return to the particular thing in focus.
There are a few things to remember with mindfulness. The nature of the mind means that it will be distracted. The purpose is to gently bring the mind back and be present. It is ok to get distracted. It is a practise. It will take time to master. It is important to be gentle with yourself.
It can be applied in practise in various ways. One of the main ways is mindfulness mediation. This is a formal practise where we train the mind to focus on the present and develop a non-judgemental attitude. It usually uses the breath as the focus point but may be a word or phrase.
However the practise of mindfulness is versatile and can quite easily be applied to everyday activities such as walking, taking a shower or washing the dishes.
An example of a mindfulness practise is mindful eating. This involves eating a meal void of any distractions such as the TV, radio, phone or talking. It involves paying full attention to the food, how it looks, how it smells, how you cut the food, the texture, the taste, chewing it slowly, noticing the muscles in your mouth, noticing the saliva secretions and following each mouthful as it passes down your digestive tract.
There is also the practise of progressive muscle relaxation where various parts of the body are tensed and relaxed in a systematic way.
What are the benefits?
- Increase clarity of thoughts
- Increase awareness of your body
- Help you to relax
- Increase sleep quality
- Increase concentration
- Help you cope with difficult emotions
- Help you cope with anxiety and depression
- More energy
- Enhance creativity
- Increased empathy and sense of connectedness
It is recommended that you implement mindfulness on a daily basis to reap the benefits. This might mean setting aside 5-10mins to do mindfulness meditation or it might mean choosing an everyday activity that you begin to do mindfully.
Helpful apps and sites
- Smiling Mind app
- ReachOut Breathe app
- Headspace app
Have you struggled to progress on your healing journey? Need a helping hand to travel the first few steps? Katherine believes in the innate power of the body to heal and sees the role of naturopathy as the flame to ignite the start of the healing process. Motivated by her own health issues, Katherine decided on a more fulfilling career change that helps others find better health too. Katherine is a degree trained naturopath and a member of ATMS.