Mindfulness means paying attention to our thoughts feelings, body sensations and the environment. This way of being can help us to bring our experiences into the moment and in doing so can enable us to feel more in control and less anxious. It can be practiced by children, young people and adults. There are various ways to develop an understanding of how to practice mindfulness, either in person, groupwork or with a coach. There are online courses, books and you can practice at home.
A Mindfulness based cognitive therapy is recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) for the prevention of relapse in recurrent depression. It combines Mindfulness techniques like meditation, breathing exercises and stretching with elements from CBT to help break through the negative thought patterns that are characteristic of recurrent depression. Research also suggests that it is particularly effective for groups who are more likely to relapse.
By disengaging from “mental clutter” and having a clear mind it makes it possible for us to respond rather than to react to situations thus improving our decision making and potential for physical and mental relaxation.
Here are some techniques:
One Minute Exercise
Sit in front of a clock or watch that you can use to time the passing of one minute. Your task is to focus your entire attention on your breathing and nothing else, for one minute.
Sit at the table and eat without engaging in any other activities, no books, music, talking or TV. Now eat paying full attention to each piece of food you select to eat. How it looks, smells, how you cut the food, the muscles you use to raise it to your mouth, the texture and taste as you chew slowly. You may be amazed at how different the food tastes when eaten in this way and how filling a meal can be. It is also good for the digestion.
Same principle, while walking concentrate on the feel of the ground under your feet, your breathing while walking, STAY IN THE PRESENT. Let your other thoughts go and look at the sky, other walkers etc. Enjoy the moment.
Sometimes when we are with others we are there in body but not fully present, we are caught up in our own “mind chatter”. Perhaps you can take time today to really hear the words being spoken. Pay attention to what is being said. People care when you truly listen to them and this appreciation will usually mean that they will pay more attention and listen more carefully, when you are speaking.