Many of us dismiss mindfulness as something airy fairy and wishy washy.
We’re here to dispel those myths and show just how important mindfulness is to our mental health and well-being.
So first things first. Mindfulness isn’t about crystals, there’s no need to realign your chakras and you don’t need to own a pair of yoga pants.
Put simply, it’s about awareness.
We’re all guilty of racing through life without giving any thought or attention to what we’re doing or what’s happening around us.
Have you ever driven somewhere and arrived at your destination and realised you have no real recollection of the journey?
Or have you raced through your lunch at your desk whilst on the computer trying to work at the same time?
Mindfulness is about taking a step back and stopping to notice what’s going on. Whether it’s something as simple as tastes, smells and sensations – or listening to our own thoughts and feelings as they happen in the here and now.
Being aware of the moment can help us to enjoy the world around us and to understand ourselves better. When we become more aware, we can experience everyday things from a fresh perspective and are less inclined to take them for granted.
To put this into practice, try eating your next meal without the TV on, and remove any distractions. Take the time to feel the textures of the food, the flavours, the smells. The more attention you pay to the simple act of eating a meal, the more you’ll enjoy it. You’ll also notice that by taking the time to chew and appreciate your food, you’ll listen when your body is full and you’ll know it’s time to stop eating. No more having to undo your jeans after dinner and having a post-dinner nap on the couch.
According to Professor Mark Williams, former director of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre, "Most of us have issues that we find hard to let go and mindfulness can help us deal with them more productively. We can ask: 'Is trying to solve this by brooding about it helpful, or am I just getting caught up in my thoughts?'
"Awareness of this kind also helps us notice signs of stress or anxiety earlier and helps us deal with them better."
The scientific evidence and clinical research underpinning mindfulness is strong and growing. It shows positive effects on several aspects of whole-person health, including the mind, the brain, the body, and behaviour, as well as a person’s relationships with others. There’s also evidence to suggest that mindfulness can be beneficial in health, education, workplaces and even prisons.
However, it it’s really important to remember it’s not the be all and end all, and it’s not the cure to everything.
If you are struggling with any aspect of your mental health or well-being the most important thing to do is seek professional help.