Lindy now takes a 10-minute mindful walk at the end of each work-day. She pays close attention as the light changes, inhales the fresh air, feels the temperature of the air on her skin, and notices each time her feet hit the pavement
What is Mindfulness?
The essence of mindfulness is our unique capacity to be aware of our experience as it is happening. Our perception of our world is shaped by where we rest our attention. What we attend to, is processed by our minds to create reality. When we are mindful, we choose to rest our attention in the present moment. This is the ‘what’ of mindfulness.
Mindfulness also has a ‘how’. We rest our attention in the present moment with an attitude attitude of kindness, warmth and curiosity. We do this to get a better understanding of our experience as it is, rather than interpreting how we think or would prefer it to be. We simply pay attention to how it is.
People come to a Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction course for all sorts of reasons. To manage anxiety, pain, depressed mood or stress, or to move towards improved well-being and flourishing. Some hear about mindfulness through therapists, have had past experiences they want to reignite or have been convinced by friends.
Many people have profound experiences in mindfulness courses, which bring about significant change. The research supports that mindfulness may reduce the distress caused by, for example, pain, illness, stress and depression. Being more mindfulness can leave us out of our ‘doing or driven mind’ which reacts in automatic ways and open up some space for us to respond rather than react.
Mindfulness is both good for loosening the automaticity of negative emotions and for finding ways to grow moments of happiness or joy. Difficult emotions can be obvious in periods of uncertainty like these COVID times, but mindfulness can help us also to notice and savour what is good. This doesn’t involve a whole lot of work but is more about noticing and enjoying the moments that may otherwise be invisible as it happens.
Here are some tips
Start the day mindfully
Make the first moment a mindful moment. Before you fall asleep, set the intention to wake up to your experience as soon as you open your eyes. Become aware of your senses as you wake up and notice the morning birdsong, the garbage trucks, and the touch of the blanket on your skin. Pause a moment, and be aware of the breath, the body, and what is going on in the mind. See what you can discover.
Pay attention to what you’re doing
Savour the things you enjoy. Notice the warmth of the coffee/teacup on your skin and inhale the smell. Pay attention to the mundane stuff too; washing the dishes, loading the dishwasher, or folding the washing. Show up and be there.
Pair mindfulness with other activities
It can be hard to remember to be mindful, to pay attention in a way that is curious and interested. See if you can link your intention to be mindful to something that happens frequently, getting a notification on your phone, putting hand sanitiser on your hands, stopping at the traffic lights. When you do these things STOP and tune in not. Stop, Turn in, Observe and then Proceed. You may or may not like what you see, but that is not important, what is important is being with what is there, and then having the choice about responding rather than reacting.
A regular meditation practice a lot like weight lifting to build a mindfulness muscle. It takes commitment and some understanding. It helps you learn to stabilise your attention and to respond to your experience skilfully. There are many ways to practice meditation, and it is worth trying a few to work out what is helpful to you and when. Often, this is not easy nor blissful. When you quieten down to meditate, you can discover just how busy your mind is. Many people say, “I cannot meditate” or "I hate it", but it is a skill we can build slowly and all learn.
Science is just beginning to understand how mindfulness affects the brain, and when you start to practice mindfulness, you become a scientist in the laboratory of your mind. You begin to explore how your mind works and the way you interact with the world.
Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction
There are so many ways to bring mindfulness into your life. There are books, podcasts, apps, short courses, and the gold standard 8-week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction course that I teach. If you'd like to immerse yourself, a Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction Course will give you a supportive and thorough beginning.
In this eight-week program, you get to try out a whole variety of meditations with guidance from a teacher. You will have rich and rewarding discussions with the group, who are learning just like you. Being part of a group can help with focus and motivation, and the exercises we engage in help make what we are learning much more relevant.
Our next HeadRest course will run on Tuesday nights beginning October 27, 2020. It’s the third COVID course we’re running on Zoom, and it works surprisingly well. You will be surprised how interactive it can be, and how well you get to know others. There is something so lovely about getting to know a whole group of others interested in something that holds meaning, in this time of social distancing.
For more information about our courses or to book in, go www.headrest.com.au or call Tienne on 0431 842 950, leave a message and I will call you back.