Mindfulness; what is it and does it work?

I have to admit – when someone first mentioned to me the idea of ‘mindfulness’ being an all-healing, life-changing premise, I scoffed. Well… I wanted to scoff, however social etiquette reared its cowardly head and urged me to respond with a more acceptable ‘smile and nod’. Thank god. 

I remember trying extremely hard not to laugh and instantly deciding that this woman was a deluded hippie; – the type of person to take part in an obscure street protest about how women shouldn’t use feminine-hygiene products, the type to own an old, beaten-up Nokia 8210 in show of her intense repugnance towards technology, the type to go for a number two and not wipe her arse because it’s more ‘loving to the planet’. 

You get the idea.

Oh, to be young and morally shallow! Like I said, thank god for that ‘cowardly’ social etiquette.. Comes in pretty handy! It prevented this (perfectly nice) lady from seeing what an immature, narrow-minded, jumped-up little turd I was. 

Nearly 10 years on, I will happily declare that she was absolutely right. Only now becoming more well-known and practised, mindfulness is a refreshingly simple concept that exists as an answer to one of the worlds’ most complicated problems, – mental health.

Mindfulness is, by definition, “A mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique”.

Yesterday evening, just before dinner, I logged into my app, ‘7 Cups’. I have a subscription that gives me unlimited access to exercises, articles and audio-tapes that are all related to mindfulness and personal growth. Not only that, but if there’s a specific issue you want to overcome, for example, agoraphobia, you can tailor your own ‘growth path’ and it will offer daily activities that fixate on that subject.

I had a good day yesterday; my boyfriend returned home on Monday night after 10 days away in the US and I was lucky enough to spend the day with him. My heart has felt light and my mind, calm. With no particular requirement on this occasion, I opted for a generic audiotape entitled “Sunrise on the Beach”. 

I took myself into the next room, laid on the bed and closed my eyes. For 12 minutes, a softly-spoken lady conducted me through a beautiful scene. Accompanied by relaxing, uplifting music, she described every detail, from the colour of the changing sky to the sound of the waves splashing against the rocks. She encouraged me to take in all the senses, such as the feeling of the warm sand beneath me, the smell of the salty sea-air and the distant sound of seagulls calling overhead. 

Contrary to what you might be thinking, a good imagination is not a necessity for this to work. As long as you are focused and open-minded, you will feel the benefits. 

Mindfulness is all about being in the moment. If you think about it, how often do we actually appreciate a moment as it’s happening? We are always on the go… always thinking, always worrying about something. In my experience, I have found that, by taking just a little time out each day to let go and relax, I feel refreshed and cleansed afterwards… It’s hard to describe, but a good way to explain it is through this image:

Perhaps your head won’t always feel that busy, and perhaps you’ll feel reasonably at peace beforehand, but there is a difference to be felt for everyone.

If you think about it like this – subconsciously, we are all constantly filling a space in our heads. Influenced through the feelings and thoughts we encounter every second of each day, the markings we make on this space can be positive or negative, colourful or dull, abstract or lucid, loud or quiet. They may not produce a dark, frantic mess like the one you see above, but it’s still important that we take time to clear this space regularly. 

“We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves”

– Buddha

Upon finishing my session last night, I joined Tom for dinner feeling purged, re-energised and utterly content.

Do you practice mindfulness? What’s your take on it? 

As ever, thanks for stopping to read 🙂
K xx

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