Updated: Oct 15, 2021
Mindfulness or meditation is widely accepted as a behaviour that aids in reducing stress,
controlling anxiety, promoting emotional health, enhancing self-awareness, and lengthening
attention span. It is no longer a lunatic fringe practise but rather a respected coping and
personal development skill. It has been found to cause measurable physical changes in the
body and the brain. Changes have been noted particularly in the mycelium sheaths that support focus and attention which means that as an exercise it does improve a “focus muscle” in the brain.
Practicing mindfulness works by encouraging you to be mindful of what you focus on and
assisting with controlling where you choose to put your attention. It is about metacognition –
thinking about what you are thinking about. It helps train you to bring your mind back into the moment each time it wanders off and makes you more aware of your emotions. Once you are aware of your thoughts you can rise above them in a calm way and start to consider whether they are helpful or limiting. You will become aware of when you are ruminating on failures and being over critical of your actions. It will allow you rather to observe yourself by paying attention to your thoughts and feelings, to create an awareness of how you feel and what is happening to your body and emotional state minute by minute, and how these changes impact on your ability to cope.
The basis of Cognitive Behaviour Training (CBT) is Think/ Feel/Act – your thoughts
impact your nervous system(feelings) and drive your reactions. Mindfulness has the potential to break the knee jerk cycle of old unhelpful thought patterns, this in turn, will help your ability to control and manage impulsive responses related to emotional overwhelm. By having the skills to consider and reframe stressful situations you will directly enhance your focus and ability to self- regulate.
Anyone can practice mindfulness and no special training or equipment is required to start the mindfulness journey. Any amount of time spent on self-observation – noticing what you are thinking about - is helpful, even five minutes a day will make a difference. When you start to realise that your thoughts are not “the single truth” and that optional interpretations and
responses are possible it becomes more about listening to your body and finding your balance.
As with all new skills the more you practise the more you will learn to stay in the moment, the
better you get at understanding your responses. The best time spent being mindful is the time you spend not the large amount of time you plan. So, the key to your success is starting small and building up to the right amount of time for you. The nice thing about mindfulness, is that it is easy to incorporate into your daily life as you can be mindful while sitting, walking, or even exercising. In a queue – turn off the headphones for a moment and you are good to go – practising mindfulness.
The correct support while embarking on this journey could assist with making mindfulness a
regular habit and a strategy that will work for you.