Mindfulness feels like a buzzword, a term flung around blogs and social media next to self-love and self-care. It’s our attempt to break the perils of modern life’s shackles. The endless commitments, performing circus acts balancing family, work, side jobs and friends. Most of us have tried to practice mindfulness – we’ve closed our eyes in a yoga pose and silently told off our thoughts for not fleeing. There is an easier way to this alternative therapy.
Why is mindfulness so important?
Mindfulness signifies acceptance. Rather than analysing and questioning our thought process, it’s about allowing feelings to swim in and out of our minds – to not let thoughts dwell. Within time, mindfulness can train ourselves to reject negative thoughts (particularly in stressful moments) and build resilience against them. I’m currently reading a book on human emotions which explains how our brains use memories to help decipher our actions and feelings.
If for example, you always get nervous and anxious before public speaking, your brain can adapt to this reaction and prepare for nerves whenever you’re about to go on stage. If stress consumes your morning, your brain will keep waking up to the hormone cortisol. Our thoughts can trigger physical movements within us. So, changing the way you think can make a difference.
We tend to live our lives in a bubble. We view the world from our own contorted narrative and don’t witness the complete picture before us. How often do we take everything in? I use to work in a London office, a 10-minute walk from the nearest train station. During this walk, I rushed past an assortment of shops and cafes, flats and pubs. I once needed to find a pharmacy selling my rare prescription. I’d tried countless places, not realising a pharmacy was situated a few doors down from my work. And that pharmacy happened to stock my tablets.
How to naturally practice mindfulness
Typically, we attempt mindfulness with the best intentions. We’re positively optimistic. Five minutes of failing to calm our frantic thoughts however leads to further frustration. Most of us recite: “I can’t do it. I can’t stop thinking”. It’s an issue I discussed on my daily meditation post where I shared tips on how to meditate. Overthinking the process corrupts the technique. In order to practice mindfulness naturally, you have to do what feels natural. If you’re not a yogi and never sit in a yoga poses (that’s what most of us do when practicing), why start now?
Why learn two things at the same time and make the task more difficult? Secondly, why make mindfulness a big thing? You can add pressure to the therapy by separating it from your everyday activities. If I told myself, “When I get home, I HAVE to meditation”, I’d end up procrastinating. If it’s just something I start doing whenever in the evenings then it feels less daunting. Some mindfulness techniques are as simple as looking for three things you can see, hear and touch.
There are various ways to practice – none of them include telling yourself off for thinking. From mindfulness apps, online courses and holistic therapy classes – an alcohol rehab centre may even teach some courses. But mindfulness also doesn’t have to be overly complicated. A simple dog walk taking in nature can do the trick. Or, as you go about your work week, you can take a second to look around and acknowledge your surroundings.
The future of mindfulness
As a teenager, I didn’t understand the worry consuming my waking hours. My family and friends didn’t discuss anxiety and depression. What little I did know about these mental health conditions stemmed from the most severe forms. Today, mental health is now a conversation. I can say to my friends, “I feel anxious and I’m not sure why”, and rather than tell me I’ll be fine or I need to relax, they’ll listen to my doubts without awkwardness.
Mental health doesn’t have the same funding as physical and treatment options are scarce. Yet stress and mental illnesses are on the rise – many articles link research to young adults in particular, noting how digital media may have caused affect. This is why mindfulness is valuable to try. It’s a free, non-time-consuming option, available to use at any given moment. I believe practicing mindfulness will continue to gain popularity and will eventually get easier for beginners in the future.
If you are a newbie, I suggest researching various techniques and seeing which one feel most comfortable. Take baby-steps and incorporate processes to your daily life gradually. You can start practicing immediately thanks to the vast amount of resources online.
Do you practice mindfulness techniques? Have you tried to before, or have you never given the idea much thought?
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