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What is Mindfulness and Where to Start?

Have you been feeling down lately? Is your brain overwhelmed and filled with negativity? On overdrive? If you answer, ‘yes’ to these questions, then it’s time to take out some time for yourself and work on slowing your mind down and training it to work for you rather than against you,  If you are wondering how you can do that, then mindfulness is the answer!

In this busy world full of distractions and chaos, it is very normal to feel stressed. But if you are unable to manage stress, your brain will go into overload at some point.

Studies reveal that 70% of the world’s total population is suffering from some kind of stress. And if you don’t want to become a part of the stressed lot, you need to practice mindfulness.

 

What Exactly Is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is the practice of slowing our minds down to focus on the here and now, we can spend a lot of time ruminating on the past or focusing on what we need to be doing next we forget how to just be in the here and now. Mindfulness trains our brain to focus only on the present moment. It induces a sense of acceptance and makes our minds more attentive toward our feelings and needs along with being able to gain distance from unhelpful thoughts and thinking styles which means that they don’t have a negative emotional punch that can trigger low mood.

When you are being mindful it’s like being a spectator and observing everything from a safe distance. You are encouraged to observe your mind without judgment, to not try to get the practice right because there is no right or wrong. When in a mindful state, you will be able to live every moment to the fullest. Imagine what a bliss it would be!

Who Needs Mindfulness?

Who doesn’t want to have a clear and focused mind? No one wants to live in a stressed state of mind. So, everyone needs mindfulness. Plus, it’s not merely a stress-relieving therapy that only people suffering from stress can practice. In fact, everyone should reserve a few minutes to sit back, meditate, and let all negative thoughts fade away.

And now, if you are curious to know how to practice mindfulness, keep reading till the end!

Benefits of Mindfulness

While there are countless benefits of mindfulness, we will focus on the ones that matter the most:

  • It’s good for healthy immune – Your brain controls all the bodily functions and having a healthy mind is vital for good health. With just 8 to 10 weeks of practice, you will feel your immune system getting stronger.
  • Reduce negative thoughts – When we learn to observe our minds rather than get caught up in each thought or worry we have we can improve how we feel and open our minds to more balanced and positive thoughts.
  • Reduce stress and anxiety –  If you include 10 to 15 minutes of mindfulness meditation in your daily routine, you will be able to lower your anxiety levels and feel calmer and more content.
  • Improves memory and concentration – Mindfulness thickens the pre-frontal cortex it’s like taking your mind to the gym improving overall function.
  • Improves mood – When our minds are healthier and not as caught up in negative automatic thoughts we are happier.

How to Achieve Mindfulness?

Achieving meditation is not rocket science. In fact, it just takes the following four steps to practice meditation for mindfulness:

  • Take a seat and sit upright, take a moment to feel grounded and supported by your chair.
  • Relax your shoulders and lower your gaze or close your eyes
  • Begin to listen to the rhythm of your breathing – you will feel your mind drifting away.
  • Pay attention to little things you are feeling in this state – such as the sound of your surroundings.
  • Your mind will wander, notice this without judgement and return your attention to your breath.
  • Notice the thoughts that arise and allow them to pass, return back to your breath.
  • Notice any body sensations that might arise and then return to your breath.
  • After a few moments open your eyes wiggle toes and fingers, stretch and return to your day with more energy and a sense of calm.

The Bottom Line

Don’t wait for the overwhelm and negativity to cloud your mind and block your vision. When you are juggling the never-ending daily tasks, taking out fifteen minutes to rewire your mind and give yourself a break might feel like an impossible task but resetting yourself for that time will return the favour, by calming your mind you will improve your concentration, memory and make fewer mistakes you will be more effective in what you need to do therefore it will actually save you time. Start practising mindfulness from today, and notice how it can turn your life around.

I regularly recommend that people practice Mindfulness at the start of therapy, CBT therapists are trained in the most up-to-date techniques so many CBT therapists will have a good amount of knowledge and experience in teaching and practising Mindfulness. You just can’t ignore the benefits of Mindfulness which are founded in science. It’s not for everyone but in my clinical experience, I find that it combines really well with CBT. When our minds are calmer we are more able to learn new information and we have more flexibility in our thinking which enhances the ability to develop new thought patterns and ways of being. It provides a great foundation through which the benefits of CBT can thrive.

Resources

Here are some of the best Mindfulness resources I have used and recommend to my clients – many offer free meditations.

1. Mindfulness: Finding Peace in a Frantic World

franticworld.com

2. Headspace – Meditation made simple

www.headspace.com

Live a happier, healthier life with just 10 minutes of meditation a day on the Headspace app.

3. Calm – Meditation Techniques for Sleep and Stress Reduction

www.calm.com

App for Mindfulness and Meditation #1 for Mindfulness and Meditation. Calm brings clarity, joy and peace to your daily life.

4. Blog post – for managing stress at work with mindfulness

Mindfulness at work

Not convinced? Watch Andy Puddicombe the founder of headspace explain the benefits of Mindfulness

 


 

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Sarah Rees

Sarah is a fully accredited Cognitive Behavioural Therapist and mental health writer delivering Modern Mental Health for you and with you in Mind. Sarah is the author of ‘The CBT Journal’ which helps you write for your wellbeing incorporating CBT techniques. For more information and to keep in touch have a look at sarahdrees.co.uk.