Medical Musings, Health Hypotheses & Therapeutic Thoughts
A growing body of research supports that mindfulness is fantastic for mental health and physical well being, and it is one of the central components of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.
So what is it all about? Put simply, mindfulness means deliberately paying attention to your present moment experience (your thoughts, feelings and sensations), and accepting what you find rather than judging whether they are good or bad. Allow yourself to let go and let it be.
One of the best ways to practice mindfulness is to bring your attention to your breath. Take some time to notice the rise and fall of your belly as you inhale and exhale, or notice the sensation of air passing in and out of your body. When your mind wanders off to other thoughts or worries (and it will, that's what minds do!), just gently ask your mind to refocus back onto your breathing. I find it good to practice this at times when I am waiting (on the train, in line, at a red light etc.)
You can also do incidental mindfulness by paying attention to whatever particular task you are doing at the time. For instance, how often are you having a shower but actually thinking about the day ahead? Next time you take a shower take a moment to pay attention to your senses;
- What can you see? (notice all the different droplets around your body and on the shower screen)
- Taste/smell? (can you taste or smell any soap? how about the water?)
- Hear? (notice the sounds of water hitting the floor, water our your body, water on the shower screen)
- Touch? (do you notice different temperatures of the water on different parts of your body? pay attention to one droplet and it moves down your arm).
There are many other ways to practice mindfulness in your daily life, but these two may get you started.
These pictures below illustrate mindfulness really well. The slideshow of pictures below are from a lovely blog called Sketches in Stillness.