Mindfulness – why bother?
Mindfulness is the buzzword of our times, but what does it really mean? And why bother? Frances Trussell, mindfulness expert and author of a new book on the subject explains…
Mindfulness is having our mind full of what we are doing when we are doing it rather than filled with thoughts. Thoughts take us on a journey into the past and future or judging where we are.
It is easy to get lost in our thoughts and when we do so we are more likely to be reactive or feel overwhelmed. If you find yourself constantly ‘somewhere else’ in your thoughts then you could be missing out on the life that is happening right now. With so many demands and distractions in our modern age many of us get used to living in a state of ‘overthink’ which increases rumination, worry and stress.
Mindfulness training can change the way we relate to thoughts, providing us with a range of tools to help us be more present. More than just a set of techniques, being ‘mindful’ raises our awareness, allowing us to perceive stressors differently and a find a happier way of being.
One of the reasons mindfulness has come into public consciousness in recent years is due to the large numbers of scientific studies set up to explore its impact. It is now well known that mindfulness meditation reduces the effects of stress and anxiety, reduces the recurrence of depression whilst improving wellbeing. Further studies have shown its effectiveness in reducing pain intensity for those with chronic pain conditions whilst improving working memory, attention span, mental and physical resilience. Neuroscience shows us that we can retrain the brain to be more focused on the present and experience greater levels of joy and appreciation for life by doing so.
So how can we become more mindful?
Like most things, mindfulness takes a bit of practice. Meditation is that practice, we can, relatively quickly develop new neural pathways in the brain which help us let go of judgement and overthinking and return to the present moment. If you’ve tried meditation in the past and it didn’t work for you don’t fear. It’s perfectly normal to have a busy mind, particularly when we first start to meditate and this is all part of the process. With proper guidance we can tame the overthinking mind along with the inner critic not just in meditation but in life too. When we do this life begins to feel lovelier!
In addition to meditation there are a whole range of practices which can help us switch from being in autopilot to manual. You can start small by challenging yourself to listen out for the birds today, this small act of focusing your awareness on something in your environment can wake us up from the daydream of thoughts.
Author and Mindfulness Expert Frances Trussell lives in East Molesey and runs ‘Mindfully Happy’ offering training to individuals, groups and companies across the UK with the majority of her work in London, Surrey and Sussex. Her next group course for beginners and refreshers starts in Twickenham on Wed 27 Feb, with an advanced course taking place in East Molesey from Mon 25 Feb.
Frances’ book ‘You Are Not Your Thoughts: The Secret Magic of Mindfulness’ is available at good bookstores, and online at amazon.co.uk