If you’re one of the many people who found it impossible to switch off and relax over the Bank Holiday weekend, then you’re badly in need of mindfulness… No, it’s not about going into deep meditation, or sitting cross-legged and chanting ‘om’, or setting aside an hour every day to contemplate – mindfulness is a way of life (akin in many ways to healthy eating, in the way that it could make you a whole lot healthier and enrich your life). It’s about having the capacity to live each and every moment of the day, fully focused, purposeful, without brain chunter and without beating yourself up or blaming others. Imagine a life without gut churning over deadlines or anxiety or negative thoughts.
Mindfulness is a skill, a discipline that is acquired through regular practice. Just as you have to work out muscles to exercise, you have to do regular mental workouts to acquire this skill. And just like exercise, it can hurt a bit at first – or be uncomfortable and require will-power.
But apply that will-power and the benefits are legion. Originally conceived in the early 1980s by Jon Kabat-Zinn to help patients endure severe chronic pain, it has been proven to help combat depression and prevent recurrences, to stop adults relapsing after conquering substance abuse and enable parents with autistic children to cope better with their children’s autism behaviour. It makes you more purposeful and productive, free from those feelings of being rushed or overwhelmed. Above all, it gives you the chance to find pleasure in simple things and access joy again.
Admittedly mindfulness has had its bad press, with media folk trumpeting its benefits and jumping on the bandwagon. But just think of it as the ultimate stress buster, exercising mind ‘muscles’ to find calm in a busy life. As the title of one of the best books, by Mark Williams and Danny Penman, on the subject states: Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Finding Peace in a Frantic World.
Our monthly mindfulness classes with Annie Davison could start you on the path… Her next class is on 19 May 9.30-10.30pm.