Posted on 16th November 2020 at 12:10
Mindfulness has changed my life and I believe that it can work for you too! I would like to share with you some of the key principles of mindfulness, how it can work for you and how to practice it.
There are different types of mindfulness. The first type of mindfulness I am going to talk about is called ‘anchoring’. This is where we can find a way of being ourselves in the present moment. Being in the moment means reducing the feelings of stress about what has happened in the past and worries about what could happen in the future. This is a very simple technique. We should remember that we cannot control what has happened in the past and we don’t know what is going to happen in the future.
Are you struggling with feelings of anxiety? Maybe you are feeling depressed and cry often? Perhaps you are recovering from addiction and are struggling with that? Have you been struggling to come to terms with a past trauma and find yourself stuck in the past and fearful of what will happen in the future? If you can identify with any of these feeling, you need an anchor.
Your anchor can be anything that exists now in the moment.
A simple and effective example would be watching the clouds. Just sit and watch the clouds and if your mind wanders simply bring it back to just watching the clouds.
Another example could be to focus on a sense, such as your hearing. Close your eyes and focus on what you can hear in the moment – maybe insects buzzing, birds singing or there’s a noise outside that you can hear. Listen non- judgmentally and just notice what you are hearing.
Another great sense for anchoring is the sense of touch. Pick up any object and pay attention to what it feels like. Spend some time just noticing these sensations and if your mind begins to stray, just bring it back to the sensation.
Sight, hearing, and touch are simple ways to understand what mindfulness is all about which is being present and bringing yourself into focus in a particular moment.
People often find that paying attention to the breath is useful as it is ‘in the moment’ and happening all the time. Just by noticing your breath going in and then out of your body, you are purely in the moment. This helps to settle down your brain and tells it that right now, these negative thoughts don’t matter. This in turn will calm down the stress response that is triggered by those intrusive thoughts of the past or worries for the future, neither of which you can control.
Imagine working in an office and trying to take in every single aspect of a business and all of the feelings of the staff all at the same time! Our brain can work like this! On a daily basis, our brain can flood us with information and things that we cannot control like an overactive computer! Our brain whilst trying to help us sends us every bit of information it can, whether this is useful or detrimental to our wellbeing. We need to take control and tell our brains what information we actually need and what we do not. The mindfulness practice of thought watching can assist with this.
Thought watching mindfulness is simply a method in which you observe your thoughts and choose which ones you want to keep, and which ones are not useful and that you can let go of. This will give you some control over your overactive brain sending you too much information. If, for instance, you have a thought such as ‘I shouldn’t have done that yesterday’… notice it and realise, that was yesterday, and you don’t need to continue to have the same thought!
When going through difficult times it is often the case that a stream of thoughts and emotions can seem to pop up out of nowhere. You do not have to attach to these thoughts and emotions as they are merely passing by. It is your brain trying to support you with information that a lot of the time you do not need. Whilst it may have some relevance, attaching to it will send you into a stream of other thoughts and other emotions and can be overwhelming.
Being aware of and even naming our emotions as they happen is another form of mindfulness and is really helpful. For example, I have feelings of guilt…. This is noticed and then allowed to pass on.
This is a technique that you can practice any time of day for as long as you want. Just sit and witness your emotions and feelings as they come in. Just notice what they are and name them, sadness, grief, fear, regret. Notice them and try not to attach to them - they have no meaning. It’s just your brain sending you messages to understand and help you, but it’s the attachment to these feelings, that causes lots of stress and tension.
If you would like more help and support and to discover more about mindfulness, I am offering a 12-session online Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Mindfulness course. This will be one to one with me and we will look at all different areas and aspects of how your brain is functioning and what messages it is bringing to you and how you can mindfully deal with this. You will also receive a workbook and support in between sessions throughout the course.
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