I’ve had the pleasure of sharing a fun, experiential and insightful introduction to Mindfulness I did with the team at Purple Robot a few years ago now. It sparked many questions and revealed many insights. As Mindfulness Day dawns, we ask:
- What is mindfulness?
- Who it is for?
- Why learn about it?
Your mind has a mind of its own. When you are driving your car or walking to the shops, emailing at work or making dinner. Around you, are noises, sounds smells, and plenty to see and touch. But where is your attention? Maybe your MIND is busy remembering ‘that’ work meeting, the to-do list for tomorrow, the run-in with your kids? Maybe it’s lost in thought, thinking about the past or things that could happen in the future? It’s like our body is working on autopilot and our mind is doing something else!
This would be NO PROBLEM if our minds were filled with only happy, pleasant and encouraging thoughts. Often automatic, tricky thoughts bring with them tricky feelings (worry, anxiety, over-thinking or anger) and uncomfortable sensations in the body (the spinny tummy, tight fists, reddening of the neck or the dry mouth). It can be exhausting trying to sort out so many thoughts or make them go away. If only we had some sort of device to filter thoughts in the mind, and give us some ‘headspace’…
Time to ditch the autopilot: Mindfulness doesn’t force our minds to go blank and STOP thinking. Rather, it helps us to calmly recognise our mind is not where we wish it to be or doing what we want. Then, we guide our attention back to where we wish it to be with gentle repetition (kind of like a puppy training to come to heel!). We practice observing & choosing which thoughts we buy into and which we simply don’t engage with. These approaches may seem radical and or unimaginable – but they are possible, practical and helpful!
In mindfulness training, we learn many techniques for stabilising our mind’s attention AND develop attitudes that help us be better versions of ourselves including kindness, patience, trust, curiosity, self-compassion and acceptance.
When we are mindful, we can:
- Create a calmer relationship with thoughts in the mind,
- Settle the physical signals of anxiety, worry and stress in the body,
- Simply be more fully present in our lives: to our friends and family,
- Be less critical and judgemental and kinder to ourselves and others,
- Develop greater resilience and respond more skilfully to challenging feelings & emotions,
- Be more focused and have higher levels of concentration at work,
- Create the necessary headspace to make clear, sound and helpful choices
Is mindfulness a miracle for over-worked, modern-day minds? Maybe, just maybe… And maybe it’s something for you to try for yourself. We’d be delighted to support your growth.
This is a guest-written blog by Dr. Sandra McCutcheon (Mindfulness Consultant for businesses and individuals, Coach and Scientist) at Mindfulness Skills4Life.