The Basic Principles Behind Mindfulness
Mindfulness is a mind-body based technique, stemming from meditational practices. It teaches people to become aware of their present thoughts and feelings, especially ones that are negative or stressful, and encourages them to choose how they react to them instead of being controlled and overwhelmed.
Feelings and thoughts are like plants: the ones that we water will grow. When you learn to take a step back from your thoughts and feelings and watch them as if you were an observer they no longer control you, instead you are in the drivers seat. You are the gardener and can choose which feelings and thoughts you water. The first step is non-judgmental observation of your mind and body.
The Benefits of Mindfulness in Building and Maintaining Mental Health
Many of our day-to-day struggles and stresses are a result of mental fixation and rumination over the past, which we cannot change, or on the future, which is unknown. For most the unpredictable or uncontrollable nature if reality is a source of worry and anxiety. The practice of Mindfulness techniques such as breath work, meditation, yoga or even simple exercise methods that teach you to be relaxed and aware in the present moment will greatly increase your ability to enjoy your life and bounce back from difficult times.
No matter where we have been in our lives or where we believe we are going, we will always find ourselves in the present moment- so why not learn to notice and appreciate what we have. The ongoing practices of Mindfulness techniques are proven to help with stress, anxiety, depression, and addiction as well as increase concentration and productivity.
There are no set religious affiliations or beliefs behind the practice of Mindfulness. It is beneficial to all people in all walks of life. Studies have shown meditational practice to increase emotional regulation. Other research shows how Mindfulness in the workplace can greatly improve workers productivity and decrease absence for illness.
One approach is to work with a Therapist to learn how to integrate Mindfulness into your daily life. Click here to connect with a therapist in person or online through the Montreal Therapy Centre.
An Easy 5 Step Mindfulness Practice
- Find a quite place where you will not be disturbed and set a timer for 15- 30 min (even 5 min is good- start small and build up).
- Sit cross-legged on the floor on a cushion, in a chair or you can also lay down.
- Close your eyes. Become aware of the sensations in your body, the sounds that you hear and start to pay attention to the rise and fall of your breath.
- Notice the thoughts and feelings that arise and then let them go and return to paying attention to your breath (try not to judge them or react to them there is no right or wrong way).
- Be gentle and kind with yourself, and try to do this every day.
Simple Mindfulness Tips and Suggestions
- Good and bad thoughts and feelings are like clouds they are constantly forming and dissipating so appreciate them for what they are. There is no reason to cling to them.
- Change is inevitable.
- Thoughts and feelings are not real, only your reactions to them are.
- Mindfulness works best as a daily practice and discipline.
- When walking focus on the sounds you hear, the air on your skin, the colors you see and the way that your feet feel on the ground and in your shoes.
- People store emotions in their body. Start to notice where your stress is located in your body.
- If you are angry or feeling emotional- close your eyes, take a few deep breaths and focus on the physical sensations in your body. Notice and ask yourself where your emotions are. Is your throat tight – is your head throbbing, is your stomach upset? You don’t need to do anything- just feel it and let it pass. It will eventually pass.
- Join a meditation group or take a yoga class.
- Be loving with yourself.
Whether you crave stability, have suffered a great loss, are dealing with anger or long for adventure you can only work to obtain your dreams and heal from the past in the present.
A therapist can help you to continue personal growth and integrate the practice of mindfulness into your daily routine. To find assistance in person or online through the Montreal Therapy Centre, make an appointment today.
Article author Rosaruby Glaberman provides individual therapy, group therapy, personal-development workshops, therapy for special needs children and adolescents and drama therapy at the Montreal Therapy Centre.