What is Mindfulness?
“Mindfulness is 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.”
So Mindfulness is the practice of being aware in every possible moment while keeping a non-judgmental outlook and at the same time observing your own bodily and emotional responses.
To do this you should begin to observe the ‘self’ and any reactions to situations and others in a dispassionate way. In other words, not be a slave to our own thoughts and the emotions that they generate, but to step back and assess before the usual reaction takes place.
Mindfulness is about taking a ‘holistic’ approach to the self. i.e. mind, body and spirit. So to fully practice Mindfulness, it is important to look at oneself as a spiritual being. Because of this new outlook, practices such as Meditation, Yoga and Thai Chi can also be utilized to bring calm and peace to the mind and body, while employing a more detached and philosophical-spiritual outlook.
Good and bad stress. In our modern society stress has become a real issue. We have become overwhelmed by the constant barrage and demands on our time and financial resources. Stress is good or bad.
Good stress gets us up in the morning and it stimulates us and allows us to learn and adapt. It stimulates us and helps us live productive lives.
Bad stress comes in a couple of forms acute and chronic. We have the acute stress such as when we move house, lose a loved one, get married or divorced, the list is endless. Chronic stress is the constant niggly stress that does not go away and repeats the same or similar pattern. The constant niggling problems of work, financial worries, having to tell your kids the same thing for the hundredth time. This stress wears us out and wears us down.
Stress and our body
Stress causes a number of physical changes. Our blood pressure increases and puts a strain on the heart. The immune system is compromised and less effective, sleep patterns are disturbed, we can feel tired and lethargic and our stomach can get irritated.
Our muscles in our neck and shoulders can get tight as well as the diaphragm and give us headaches and sore neck and shoulders. Other areas of the body can also get tight and make any problems already there much worse. We can then spiral down in a “catch 22” the physical and emotional exacerbating each other.
Unless these problems are looked at as two sides of the same coin, we constantly go from person to person to get help. Understanding the link and the interaction of body and mind is the absolute key. Treating them as such must, therefore be the response.
Relaxation and learning to breathe
To relax we must first contract or tighten muscles. It sounds odd but muscles need the energy to relax(ADP), so to relax a muscle, we must contract it, then relax and finally stretch. It’s usually the exact opposite of what most people do. Coupled with this we can use the idea of mindfulness to relax the brain, push stress away into the distance, where it does not change, but our perception of it does. Think of stress as something disgusting in front of your face, push it away into the distance or step back away from it. It changes doesn’t it.
This starts to give us a chance of our bodies to relax and our brains to stop being overwhelmed.
It gives us a chance to think more clearly and start to move away from the stress. The important thing to do is then nothing, as we start to think more clearly and feel more relaxed we can get in control of our mind and body before we make any changes or decisions. When we start to feel better we can then move on to find the help we then need. We may then have the capacity to deal with the demands or needs that we then may face.
Think about shutting programs down on you computer before you open anymore! Or just shut it all down and go for a walk.