Demystifying mindfulness simple is not a simple task. There has been much written in the last months about mindfulness, from debunking it completely and calling it a sham to claiming it can cure all kinds of mental and physical illnesses. As both a psychotherapist and mindfulness meditation instructor, I thought I’d try to demystify mindfulness, give some of the low-down, take away some of the hype , and make mindfulness a bit easier to understand .
Mindfulness means awareness. Awareness of what, you might ask. Simply put, we’re talking about awareness of whatever is going on in your body and mind, as well as in your external environment from moment to moment. Most of this is information you take in through your senses.
So if you’re mindfully driving your car, you might be aware of the feel of the wheel in your hands, the traffic around you, the music on the radio, and hopefully of the thoughts in your mind. You pay attention to all of these, instead of spacing out and going on ‘auto pilot’, where you didn’t even know how you got from point A to point B once you arrived there. We’ve all have that experience from time to time, so we know what mindfulness isn’t.
When you drive (or eat or walk or perform any activity) in this way, you’re closer and more present to yourself. You don’t spin out in thoughts that you don’t even know are there until some time has passed.
Mindfulness demystified means that you can learn to watch your thoughts instead of getting absorbed in the story in your mind. The hype surrounding it suggests that this can be done in one easy lesson!
The benefits of this type of mindfulness practice are that you slow your body processes down so that you feel less anxious and fearful in the moment. Your thoughts are more focused on what may need to be done. You’re more conscious of what you’re thinking and feeling and can respond to a given situation appropriately. The world appears to have greater clarity.
Over time, if you practice mindfulness regularly, you can become more focused with your attention, more proactive and less reactive, less stressed and have a greater sense of peace and calm.
If you don’t practice regularly, but have brief experiences of mindfulness here and there, there will be no cumulative effect. It is truly a practice in the sense that if you don’t practice you don’t become proficient, much like a musician at the piano.
I think this is where some of the confusion about mindfulness lies. It’s not a one off kind of thing. Even when I miss a week of practice, there’s a setback and it takes some time to build the practice up again. That’s the low-down; the hype is it can be accomplished with a snap of the fingers!
In other words, it’s not a quick fix. It can’t cure your psoriasis, your depression, or even your anxiety. If practiced regularly, mindfulness can reduce your stress level, and help you focus your attention over time.
Mindfulness demystified means that if its practiced regularly, mindfulness can bring you into a deeper connection with yourself, the world and the people around you.
To learn how to use mindfulness meditation, please visit www.expatcounselingandcoaching.com to get your free copy of the eBook, Top 10 Tips for Daily Mindfulness by Dhyan Summers.