“Even in the midst of disturbance, the stillness of the mind can offer sanctuary.” – Stephen Richards
There are a lot of misconceptions about what Mindfulness is.
For many people, just the word Mindfulness conjures up images of an Indian yogi sitting in lotus pose or a long-haired vegan man living in Bali. Many people assume that Mindfulness must be about – God, something religious, something spiritual. The idea of being more Mindful - sounds a bit alternative. Mindfulness must be all about sitting for hours meditating – thinking about nothing – just focusing on breathing. In a busy, stressful, demanding world - who even has the time to do nothing for hours on end?
Now there is some truth in the stereotypical images that are conjured up when we think of the word Mindfulness. One way in which to learn how to lead a more Mindful life is by meditating – and one form of meditation is focusing on our breath – in order to train our minds/thoughts. However this is by no means the only way to be more Mindful...and indeed just meditating for 10 minutes every morning will not in itself make anyone more Mindful.
So what exactly is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness describes the practice of focusing on the present moment or the “NOW”. Rather than worrying about the future or obsessing over the past, Mindfulness encourages training your mind to focus on whatever it is that you are doing in that moment. Of course you have to occasionally delve into the past and the future - to learn from your mistakes, to celebrate good memories, to plan your goals and to create your dreams...but often thoughts about the past and the future are negative or unnecessary.
Mindfulness also involves doing everything that you do with your complete energy and focus. We live in a world where we have many things fighting for our attention at all times. So instead of multi-tasking and trying to concentrate on several things at once – you are encouraged just to do one thing at a time and give it all of your attention and focus.
So often we are with our children, thinking about our work – at our jobs, thinking about the kids – with a friend thinking about our mum and at lunch thinking about our friend. So often we are physically in one place but mentally somewhere else – and that basically means that we end up missing out on our lives. We are never really enjoying anything that we are doing because we are thinking about something else whilst doing it. So often we are also trying to juggle so many things and yet by multi-tasking our way through life, we never really do the best we can at anything. Mindfulness is effectively a practice that can be used to train your mind and your thoughts to enable you to focus on one thing at a time and truly enjoy whatever it is that you are doing.
Have the benefits of Mindfulness been proven by science?
There are a range of studies which show the benefits of Mindfulness, for example:
-A 2014 study found that Mindfulness Based Therapy provided the most significant protection against relapse for patients with increased vulnerability due to childhood trauma compared to other forms of therapy.
- A 2013 study on the benefits of an online mindfulness course found that perceived stress, anxiety and depression decreased at course completion and further decreased at one-month follow-up.
- Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy has been recommended by NICE for depression and a 2016 meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials found that MBCT was an effective intervention for relapse prevention in recurrent major depressive disorder.
- A meta-analysis of the effectiveness of online mindfulness-based interventions in improving mental health and wellbeing showed that online mindfulness-based interventions had a beneficial impact on depression, anxiety, wellbeing, mindfulness and stress.
There are a range of tools that you can learn to lead a more Mindful life (including some forms of meditation but also many other tools). At byrne dean we run Mindfulness training sessions to teach individuals how they can train their minds to lead happier and healthier lives. In these sessions we provide practical tools (tailored to those working in a corporate environment) which can be used by anyone (irrespective of religious or spiritual beliefs) to improve their mental, physical and emotional health. If you are interested in finding out more about our Mindfulness sessions please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“The real meditation is the way you live your life”.