Mindfulness and self-awareness are virtually impossible to separate; to be mindful, we need to be self-aware.
Often described as the ability to be ‘present’, ‘engaged’ or ‘fully in the moment’, mindfulness requires us to be aware of where we are and what we are doing, in an objective way. It is a way of observing and acknowledging our thoughts, feelings and sensations without acting on or responding to them. It helps to reconnect our body, mind and soul.
Many researchers say that when we train ourselves to be more mindful and self-aware, we are actually remodelling the physical structure of our brain!
What are the Benefits of Mindfulness Practice?
By regularly performing or ‘practising’ mindfulness, we are able to experience a range of benefits such as reducing stress levels, enhancing our performance, and gaining insight. It is one way to give ourselves self-care (being warm and kind to ourselves), and to care more for others.
Mindfulness is helpful during difficult times as it helps you to keep connected and focused, without becoming overwhelmed.
Three Types of Mindfulness
With so many potential benefits, we should all be embracing mindfulness! Mindfulness can be performed through the following techniques:
- Meditation practice with other activities, such as yoga or sports;
- Short pauses in our daily lives;
- Conducting a body scan.
What is Meditation?
Meditation is a technique where we learn to focus our minds on a particular object, thought, or activity. It is a way of training our attention and awareness, to calm our emotions, and bring clarity to our mind.
Through meditation we are able to explore our awareness and insights where each and every movement is momentous. We turn our awareness to:
- our body – the sensations we are currently experiencing eg the breeze blowing across our skin, or a pungent odor wafting into the room
- our mind – whatever thoughts are crossing our mind, no matter how seemingly random eg wouldn’t it be weird to see an elephant playing the trumpet?
- our soul – the emotions flooding our being, whether love, hate, fear, jealousy, gratitude, pleasure, etc
Remember: Meditation begins and ends in our body. It involves talking the time to pay attention to where we are, ‘checking in’ on what we are feeling and experiencing – and that starts with being aware of your body.
How to Practise Meditation?
If you would like to try mindfulness meditation, here is an exercise that you can try at home, at work, at the park – any time that you have a few moments free, and are in a place where you can sit comfortably. Move gently and calmly into position (of course if you have any injuries or physical limitations, adjust to suit):
- You may like to sit cross-legged on the ground; if on a seat, it’s best if the soles of your feet are touching the floor, rather than dangling.
- Straighten your spine, letting your head and shoulders relax. With your hands resting lightly on top of your legs, you should be neither hunched or stiff.
- Allow your gaze to fall gently downwards – or you can even close your eyes if you prefer.
- Relax there for a few moments.
- Focus on your breathing. Your thoughts may wander; when you notice this, calmly bring your attention back to your breath.
You can now return to the activities of your day, or use this exercise as a launch pad for further mindfulness practice such as yoga.
It’s seems simple, but it’s not necessarily easy – however the rewards are worth it!
Author: Vishal Patel, M Social Work, AASW, AMHSW.
Vishal Patel is an Accredited Mental Health Social Worker, with significant experience in working with victims of trauma, abuse and violence. His area of interest includes addressing significant complex and challenging behaviours in children under the age of 12 years. He is able to provide therapy in English, Gujarati, Hindi and Urdu.
To make an appointment try Online Booking. Alternatively, you can call M1 Psychology Brisbane on (07) 3067 9129.
- https://www.mindful.org/what-is-mindfulness [Accessed 20 April 2021].