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Mindfulness

Mindfulness is an ancient eastern practice which doesn’t conflict with any religious, cultural beliefs or traditions.  Nor does it conflict with any scientific or psychological theories.

It is a very simple concept  - it means paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment – both inside and outside of ourselves.

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Quite Simply – it is a practical way to notice thoughts, physical sensations, sights, sounds, smells - anything we might not normally notice.

The background to mindfulness might sound simple - but this is very different to how our minds normally behave.

It is very easy to stop noticing the world around us and lose touch with the way our bodies are feeling – resulting in living in our heads – i.e. caught up in our thoughts without stopping to notice how those thoughts are driving our emotions and behaviour.

E.g. -  we go out into the garden, look around and think ‘I need to get the grass cut’, ‘I need to weed the plants’ we then start building on the thoughts – ‘I should have got it done last week when it was nice, I’ll never get it done this week with the weather’.

A child on the other hand would go out into the garden notice an ant or a ladybird or the colour of a particular flower, how a flower is growing out of a crack in the wall.

With a sense of adventure and curiosity, we can learn and experience more, moment by moment - Dr Patrizia Collard

Mindfulness can simply be noticing what we don't normally notice, because our heads are too busy in the future or in the past - thinking about what we need to do, or going over what we have done.

This is what we mean by being aware of the present, moment by moment.  Not worrying about what is going to happen or what has happened.  Focusing on the present and what is happening NOW.

Our minds wander quite naturally about 50% of the time – being mindful helps us train our attention and choose what we focus on rather than passively allowing our attention take us away from the present moment. 

By living moment to moment it is possible to rediscover a sense of peace and enjoyment and to recapture how e.g.  a child might feel enchanted by life and what is happening around them. 

Mindfulness might be described as choosing and learning to control our focus of attention

Reconnecting with our bodies and the sensations they experience takes practice but we can learn to wake up to the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of the present moment.  This might be something as simple as the feel of the banister as we walk upstairs rather than thinking about what needs to be done when we get there – like making the bed, cleaning the bathroom.

It is about – being in the here and now and this is where we need to start living.

Being in the now – living moment by moment, and seeing everything afresh without judgement and worry lets us experience life rather than just get through it - Dr Patrizia Collard

How can it help me?

  • It can help us enjoy what is going on around – experience and appreciate things more and understand ourselves better.
  • It can help us become aware of the stream of thoughts and feelings we experience and how we can become entangled in that stream in ways that are not helpful.  This enables us to stand back from those thoughts and feelings and start to see their patterns we can then train ourselves to notice when they are impacting negatively and change the way we respond and relate to what is happening around us.
  • It can be effective in reducing stress, anxiety and improving mood.

Mindfulness practice is now recommended by the department of health as an effective intervention for conditions associated with immune system e.g: ME, MS and HIV

How do I do it?

Sounds simple doesn't it.

However, it is one thing to become aware of our thoughts, feelings, body sensations and our environment as part of changing our focus and becoming mindful but we also need to set time aside for more formal practice which includes things like breath work, meditation / relaxation, visualisation, tai chi / yoga 

This resource will aim to help you:

Understand and practice one of the main principles of mindfulness – to concentrate your focus of attention on the present moment
To learn basic relaxation / meditation techniques – including: guided imagery and breath work
Explore how your thoughts impact on your emotion and behaviour and how you can change your response to the challenges of life 

Mindfulness resources

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What's in this resource?

  • Mindfulness Overview (.pdf)

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  • Mindful Activity (.pdf)

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  • Mindful Breathing (.pdf)

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  • Mindful Emotions (.pdf)

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  • Using Mindfulness To Cope With Negative Experiences (.pdf)

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