Mindfulness is being fully in the present moment without thinking about the past or the future. This means we have clarity and are relaxed because our mind is not full of thoughts, worries or endless chatter. By being mindful, we are completely focused on the activity we are doing and not planning the next thing we need to do. This increases our enjoyment of that activity, even if it is the washing up or other daily chores as we are not thinking “I wish I didn’t have to do this or I need to hurry this so I can get the next job done”.
Have you ever felt completely absorbed in an activity where your mind isn’t wandering? Some people call it being “in the zone”, and the experience is much more pleasurable. It feels like we have more time, we are more relaxed and the day is more pleasurable.
Practising mindfulness helps us to spot our familiar patterns (such as getting stressed, anxious, depressed, angry, being self-critical, having self-doubt, self-pity and even our mind jumping from one thought to another) and we learn how to move our focus which then halts the usual pattern and we can choose to be present without it.
Have you ever driven and been surprised you don’t remember part of the journey or got to the end of the meal and realised you hadn’t even tasted it? These things happen when we are on automatic pilot and by practising mindfulness we can really live our life rather than drifting through it.
By being mindful, our worries, unpleasant thoughts, pain and stress have their “force” taken out of them and we learn to accept what comes our way without “following” it or judging it. This takes the heat out of it, leaving us calmer, able to cope and our issues do not feel as troublesome.
Being in the present doesn’t mean we cant think of the past or future but when we are thinking of the past or the future, we are conscious that we are reminiscing or planning and not “lost in thought” with our mind jumping all over, which can be exhausting and stressful and can lower our mood.
Mindfulness takes practise - it is like doing exercises for the mind and we can’t expect to get fit without exercise! Mindfulness teaches us how to get more out of life - really living each day, each moment and thus finding contentment and joy in the simple things and an increased happiness in our life.
Read the many benefits of mindfulness here.
Claire teaches mindfulness in Scotland. She teaches the 8 week MBSR course as well as other mindfulness courses that help reduce pain, stress,anxiety and depression. Call Claire and discuss with her how it can help you.