Mindfulness – Five Simple Steps To Achieve It
What is Mindfulness?
It’s all too easy to rush through life worrying about future events and replaying the past. Mindfulness is a practice that encourages focussing on the present moment rather than the past or future.
The principles of mindfulness include paying more attention to your emotions, feelings and the world around you. Advocates of the practice claim that mindfulness can help you to enjoy life more and understand yourself better. It also appears to make us more resilient.
The Benefits of Mindfulness
If you find that you’re regularly worrying about future events or replaying the past in your mind, mindfulness could benefit your mental well-being. Many people become stuck in patterns of behaviour due to their past experiences or their expectations of the future. Mindfulness allows you to see the patterns which lead to negative self-beliefs. This awareness means you are better able to control your daily emotions and reactions to events.
In fact, the practice of mindfulness is recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) as a way to prevent depression in people who have have experienced more than three bouts of depression in the past – See NICE Guidelines for treating depression in adults.
How to Be More Mindful
So, mindfulness is good – but how do we do it? Follow our 5 easy steps to living a more mindful life:
1. Make Mindfulness Regular
When you start to practice mindfulness, it can be very helpful to make it a regular part of your daily routine. One of the best times to practice mindfulness is on your public transport daily commute. But it can be any time – a stroll over lunch time or a dog walk in the evening. Make that your time to really focus on what is happening around you and how that affects you. Rather than being at the mercy or your own destructive thoughts, allow the outside world to intrude and take over.
2. Police Your Thoughts
Professor Williams, former director of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre, says, “Some people find it very difficult to practice mindfulness. As soon as they stop what they’re doing, lots of thoughts and worries crowd in.”
“It might be useful to remember that mindfulness isn’t about making these thoughts go away, but rather about seeing them as mental events.”
“Imagine standing at a bus station and seeing ‘thought buses’ coming and going without having to get on them and be taken away. This can be very hard at first, but with gentle persistence it is possible.”
Acknowledge that your thoughts are sometimes intrusive and unhelpful. See them as mental events rather than problems.
3. Name Your Feelings
Recognise when your internal voice is being negative. Know and acknowledge when you are feeling anxious. Many people struggle with negative thoughts – try to acknowledge this and then simply let the thoughts go.
4. Recognise the Futility of the Past
Next time you find yourself mulling over an event from the past that makes you feel bad – just let it go. Acknowledge to yourself that it isn’t helpful to give it the energy of further thought. The same rule applies to worrying about things that haven’t yet happened. Worrying never changed any future event, it just destroys your present happiness.
5. Develop Mindfulness
The ability to practice mindfulness improves with practice. As you see positive results, your enthusiasm increases! Regular attention to mindfulness improves your mental well-being.
Why not devote just 20 minutes to mindfulness each day for the next two weeks and see how it impacts your life? Illumine would love to hear about your experiences.
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