Mindfulness and relaxation

Mindfulness is growing in popularity and recently even members of parliament were raving about the benefits of mindfulness during bath time.

It is appearing in school extra-curricular activities and now most work places are actively encouraging it.

What exactly is it and where did it come from?

The origins of mindfulness lie in ancient meditation practices. Now the western world has caught up and research has proven their effectiveness in managing stress, depression and anxiety.

A man called Jon Kabat-Zinn is often referred to as the father of modern mindfulness and has written many books on the subject. He describes mindfulness as, “..paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.”

This may seem trivial in practice, giving something your full attention but consider how many times you have looked at your watch and then realised you don’t know what the time is, or when you have driven somewhere but cannot recall the journey. This pattern can result in becoming obsessed with other thoughts, worrying and anxiety.

With practice, mindfulness practitioners learn how to switch off brain chatter, to slow down and to experience the present moment as it actually is. As opposed to what our unhelpful thoughts may perceive to be happening now or in the future! In essence, focus on the NOW.

By learning to experience the present moment as it really is, mindfulness practitioners learn to distance themselves from habitual, often unconscious, emotional and physiological reactions to everyday events, see things as they really are and respond to them rationally rather than on auto pilot. As with any skill, it becomes easier the more you do it and regular practice is required no matter how good you get!

How can we practice it?

There are variations on mindfulness but essentially it comes down to meditation, sitting still (you’ll probably fall asleep lying down).

What are the benefits

Research suggests regular mindfulness can reduce stress, improve productivity and focus, improve an ability to be aware of our surroundings and see improvements in mood.

So in summary: 

  • Anyone can do it – it’s for everyone from all walks of life, young or old, rich or poor, it does not require anyone to change their belief system.
  • It is evidence-based. Research demonstrates the positive health benefits for health, happiness and productivity.
  • You can do it anywhere, sitting down, lying down, just focussing on the moment can literally be done everywhere.

For more information on mindfulness take a look at http://mindfulnessuk.com/

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