Over the past decade or so, Mindfulness has become a familiar buzzword for anything relating to health and wellbeing. But what exactly is mindfulness? And why should it often be treated with caution?
The word Mindfulness means ‘using the mind fully in all aspects of our daily lives.’ Bringing our awareness to the present moment, in order to see things clearly, realistically and not magnify our problems to be bigger than they really are. When we overthink our problems, of course our anxieties and stress levels are also heightened. One technique for helping us achieve a mindful way of living, is the practice of Mindful Meditation. This helps us prepare the mind to adapt itself to this new way of living & perception. Preparation is the most important part of Mindfulness practice. Don’t forget, for years we’ve been fantastic teachers, training our minds to think a million thoughts at once, so we can’t instantly expect it to relax just because we decided on a different way of doing things. Preparing the mind takes time, effort.
A ‘Mindful’ way of living however, sounds beautiful if you’re sitting somewhere in the Himalayas, totally at one with nature without any obstacles – but what about in Western society where stress related illness is on the increase? Where many are suffering the impact of war or other past traumatic events? For us, the present moment feels more like an impending threat than a therapeutic input. Some would argue, these are the perfect situations for using Mindfulness practice. As someone fortunate enough to have spent time studying the mind & meditation practices in India, I feel qualified to say “when the present moment leaves us fearful, in a place we really don’t want to be, Mindfulness practice should be avoided. It can be more damaging than therapeutic.” There are however other suitable types of meditation practice, e.g ‘Transcendental Meditation’ which supports equilibrium by removing us from the moment rather than bringing us into it.
For others, Mindfulness practice can be very therapeutic, improving focus, concentration, sleep problems, stabilising mood and a whole range of physical and mental health problems.
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