Mindfulness is about attention and awareness, it is the simple act of noticing new things. There is nothing touchy-feely about this, it is something all of us do, some of the time.
Many of us have busy minds, caught up in our thoughts, thinking about the past and worrying about the future. Constant rumination and worry drains our energy, impacts our relationships and causes ill health.
I follow the work of Dr Ellen Langer, as a Psychologist she has a very specific understanding of mindfulness that has been studied over the past 40 years, which is the simple act of noticing new things.
Practicing mindfulness helps reduce stress and boost happiness; it helps our heart, our mind and our actions. We can learn to be mindful, we can cultivate mindfulness through both formal and informal practices.
For me, mindfulness is about noticing what is happening in my mind and my body, noticing what I am experiencing with compassion and openness.
Mindfulness spans back thousands of years with origins in Buddhism, Yogic practice and Dawah . It is now practiced in a secular way in schools, universities, sports, politics, workplaces and in therapy. There is growing evidence that shows the benefits of mindfulness on ageing, on the immune system, on brain functioning and on increasing our attention and ability to focus. Evidence also shows its effectiveness in reducing symptoms of depression, anxiety and other medical and psychological conditions.
I have been studying and practicing mindfulness for some years now and I continually call upon my beginners mind. Just as a child has a wonderful sense of curiosity about things, I too have a sense of curiosity about mindfulness. Mindfulness helps me notice my thoughts and helps me build emotional awareness, it helps me better understand how I am responding to things in my life.
Mindfulness is a science. Through mindfulness we can build our mental capacity and ability to pay attention to what is happening here and now.
Some people practice mindfulness to increase their concentration span, others cultivate mindfulness to gain perspective and for self-regulation. I practice mindfulness because I like the qualities that come from introspection, that is, looking within. Compassion. Empathy. Self awareness. Emotional Regulation.
Mindfulness is a core part of my therapy. Below is a link to an animation that explains mindfulness simply -