People ask me “how do you do mindfulness”?
My answer is always the same “it can’t be learnt as a concept because it’s a state and not a trait.”
Mindfulness is a way of being… it is as simple as breathing… if you can breathe you are doing it!
I also get asked, “is mindfulness the same as meditation?”
My answer is NO. Mindfulness is not meditation.
Mindfulness may be promoted by practices such as meditation, yoga, tai chi or qigong but they are not mindfulness. Meditation is a tool to enable you to be more mindful.
What’s the difference between Mindfulness and Meditation?
Most of the conversations about mindfulness in the public domain, reference mindfulness that is developed through mindful mediation but that doesn’t mean that mindfulness is meditation.
Meditation is a practice where you focus attention and train awareness so you are able to shift awareness and place it where you want. You’re in control and you’re consciously aware.
Being aware is the exact opposite of the common malaise of split attention, multi-tasking, rumination and disengagement and being pulled by whatever pulls at your attention.
When there is no conscious awareness
Without consciousness and choice choice, you flit between this and that and your attention wanders.
Mindfulness is just a psychological state of awareness…moment by moment awareness and without judgment.
Mindfulness is as simple as a breath and is powerfully transformative
Mindfulness holds a key to emotional regulation, awareness and acceptance and there is a tonne of evidence on the physiological benefits to our bodies and its ability to rewire our brains to improve mental health.
Calmness, clarity and concentration are some of the benefits that are promoted by mindfulness and these contribute to a greater state of mental wellbeing.
Benefits of mindfulness
1. Your wandering mind will be tamed
Rumination is reduced.
With ongoing practice, your mind will be able to sustain attention instead of wandering.
2. Your stress is reduced
Many studies show that practicing mindfulness reduces stress and anxiety.
3. Your working memory is boosted
Improvements to working – short term, everyday memory, appear to be another benefit of mindfulness
4. Your focus improves
Mindfulness meditation affects the ability to focus attention and suppress distracting information
5. You become less volatile
There is less emotional reactivity. You become less reactive to strong emotions that pull and tug at you. It’s like the edge is taken off these strong undesirable emotions and because you can see what they are …you can choose to disengage and you’re then in control.
6. You become more resilient
Resilience is mental flexibility.
The ability to bounce back after tough times. This quality is boosted with a mindfulness and mindful mediation practice.
7. Your insight increases
You develop the skill of self-observation. At a brain level, this means that what is happening in the moment is integrated in the brain in a different way. On a practical level, it enhances self-insight and intuition.
8. Relationship satisfaction increases
Your ability to be mindful can help your relationship satisfaction. This is because mindfulness enhances your ability to respond well to relationship stress and increases your awareness and skill in communicating your emotions to your partner.
Mindfulness meditation has numerous health benefits and it improves overall wellbeing.
The most valuable benefit in many people’s lives is that it protects you against the emotionally stressful effects of relationship conflict.
Do I recommend it?
What’s yoga got to do with it?
If you’re new to contemplative practices or if you’ve tried and given up, try a form of movement meditation like a yoga practice. It’s a lovely entrance point to becoming still and totally aware of your body and senses.
Grow your focus muscle
And remember to grow your focus muscle by bringing your attention to the breath. As the mind wanders, bring it back…
In my workshops, no matter what the topic, emotional regulation, communication, leadership or resilience and mind strength, you get to walk out with a bundle of mind tools and you get to experiment with movement …walking slowly, intentionally, noting the tiny movement in muscles, the shifts in ligaments and joints as they slide and shift, turn and move, you’ll notice the transfer of weight as the body returns to neutral- all the time holding your awareness on your own body…and then you feel the deep and profound calm.
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