You must have heard the word. Mindfulness has finally reached the mainstream, which is good news for all of us and our mental health. The only problem with the growing popularity of mindfulness is that it can be confusing to wade through the different (and sometimes conflicting) approaches to it.
What is mindfulness?
In a nutshell, mindfulness is simply taking the time to be aware of what’s going on in your body or mind. It doesn’t involve clearing your mind, reaching a perfect state, or living in a remote ashram (unless you want it to). Mindfulness is accessible to everyone, and it can work wonders in terms of keeping you happy and healthy.
What are the benefits of mindfulness?
Research shows that mindfulness really does benefit both your mental and physical health. Just a short meditation each day can decrease blood pressure, help with anxiety, and give you better sleep. And better sleep brings a whole host of benefits! To find out more about the health benefits of mindfulness, we recommend taking a look at Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat-Zinn, a renowned mindfulness expert who pioneered the use of meditation for chronic illness.
How do I start?
So how can you get started? It’s easy to feel intimidated by people who claim to meditate for an hour a day, or who judge you for doing less. But the reality is that your practice is your own. Start with five minutes of sitting quietly a day. Two minutes, if five feels like too much. You can slowly increase the amount of time if you wish. Remember that this is about building a habit, not racing to be the best. As you progress, experiment with the different types of meditation that work for you; body scans, guided visualisation, or unguided. There are hundred of variations and one or more will suit you.
What can go wrong?
When you first start out using mindfulness meditation, you might find it harder than you first thought. Distractions, discomfort, and frustration are all common in the beginning (and even when you’re an experienced meditator). The idea is that you’ll be able to cultivate enough distance from these thoughts to allow you space to just look at them. You don’t need to get rid of them, just see them for what they are.
Let us know how you get on with your mindfulness journey. If you’re struggling to meditate alone, come and join us in class for a few mindful moments at the beginning and end of each class!