Mindful living involves becoming aware of, attending to and accepting our experience, without judgment, in the present moment. Embracing our thoughts, feelings and body sensations just as they are- both joyful and painful experiences - with loving kindness allows us to feel more contentment in our lives. We are human beings, not human doings!
When we feel overwhelmed, depressed, stressed or anxious we can use mindfulness techniques to separate our vulnerable feelings from our reaction to these feelings. By challenging our assumptions about ourselves and others, we begin to choose how to respond to stressful situations, rather than having knee jerk reactions to life events.
What are the benefits of mindfulness?
- Focusing your attention on your breath can help to soothe mental stress and physical pain
- Accepting that difficult feelings will pass allows us to break negative thought patterns
- Practising mindfulness meditation - eg the body scan meditation/ the kindness meditation -can help you learn to observe your thoughts without judgment and it can also help you to accept that it is the nature of the mind to be frenetic
- Focusing your attention on your here and now experience can soothe the symptoms of stress , anxiety and anger
- Focusing your attention /awareness on your body sensations in the here and now can help you develop a greater connection between mind and body
- Seeking out the positive aspects of your here and now experience can make you feel more contented and alive
- Turning towards our stressed, anxious, depressed or overwhelmed feelings can reduce our fear of our feelings
- Accepting that stress/being vulnerable is an inevitable part of being human allows us to nurture and soothe ourselves
- Grounding techniques /meditation (becoming aware of what is happening internally and externally in the present moment) can help us become in tune with the experience of all our senses
- Acknowledging that there is a gap between life stresses and our response allows us to choose how we respond to these events, rather than automatically reacting to them. Using this mindfulness technique can break addictive behaviours like alcohol abuse, eating disorders, smoking, gambling, self harm etc
Listen to BBC Radio 4's programme - All in the Mind - about how mindfulness can help relieve the symptoms of stress