Mindfulness is a basic human technique, that is available to each and every one of us – the ability to be fully present, at any given moment. Sounds pretty simple, right? Well, not quite. How often do you purposely focus on the here and now? Have you ever noticed that when you drive from home to work, for instance, you have no real recollection of really doing so, you just got there? This is called being on automatic pilot mode, we often go about our familiar and repetitive everyday tasks whilst thinking about something else. Mindfulness therefore, is the exact opposite of this. By choosing to be in the here-and-now, or the being mode we can step outside of automatic pilot. Automatic pilot is where patterns of unhelpful thinking exist, worrying, rumination, and negative dwelling exist, therefore learning to mindful more often will strengthen the attentional muscle in brain, helping to weaken old, unhelpful and automatic thinking habits. Research shows us that when you train your brain to be mindful, you can remodel the physical structure of your brain, much like going to the gym will help to strengthen and condition your muscular system.
Mindfulness is a skill that takes time to cultivate, it’s not easy and requires time, effort and patience, but with enough discipline it can help you to:
- increase self-awareness
- feel calmer and less stressed
- choose how to respond to your thoughts and feelings
- cope with difficult or unhelpful thoughts
- be kinder and more compassionate to yourself
Many people find practising mindfulness helps them manage their day-to-day wellbeing, but it doesn’t always work for everyone. As a general wellbeing tool it is not the answer to all difficulties, you may find other focused treatments more helpful. As some practises focus on the breath, you may find this uncomfortable If you experience breathing difficulties or quite severe anxiety. Again, some practises focus on difficult thoughts which can bring up some uncomfortable, if not distressing, emotions at first. Lastly, mindfulness takes time, practise and patience, but if this is a tool that works well for you then it will be transformational.
Why not see if mindfulness is for you? I am running an 8 week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction course in the autumn at Cherry Tree Therapy Centre, Buckhurst Hill starting Saturday 12th October from 12pm – 2pm. Spaces are just £5 per person per session. Please contact me to book or for further information.