Mindfulness is the practice of being aware of yourself and your surroundings in the current moment rather than your mind fixing on things that have happened in the past or being anxious about what will happen in the future. It can help us to stay calm in difficult situations and to experience life more fully.
In modern times our day to day lives can tend toward being rushed and busy. As soon as one task is finished it's time to move on to the next; work, school, home, play. We find ourselves constantly checking our phone, emails, texts, Facebook, Twitter and the list goes on of the social interactions we feel the need to keep up with right now.
Strangely taking as few as 10 minutes a day to practice being mindful can help to alleviate some of the anxiety and stress of daily modern life. This is becomes especially helpful if you are also experiencing some form or pain or discomfort. Easing the stress and anxiety can help to reduce the intensity and frequency of those pain experiences and feelings.
Scientific research has over the last few years confirmed some of the positive benefits that have for many years been attributed to practicing meditation or mindfulness. Mindfulness may help to reduce the intensity and frequency of feelings of pain and discomfort, improve circulation & sleep, reduce stress & anxiety, and help to feel more calm and focused.
Although mindfulness has it roots in Buddhism you don't need to believe in Buddhism or even know anything about it to practice mindfulness. Everyone can incorporate mindfulness in to their everyday lives, to really reap the benefits of mindfulness it is helpful to practice daily for 10 to 20 minutes a day, this then enables you to tap in to this calmness whenever you feel challenged in your daily life.
Below are a few tips and ideas to get you started using mindfulness.
- Mindfulness is just the act of being fully aware in the present moment all you need is your mind and your breath, you always have these with you.
- When waking up in the morning take a few moments before getting up to just be still for several deep breaths taking in your surrounding, the smells, temperature, light and shadows.
- Notice your breath. Throughout the day try to take notice of how you are breathing, are you holding your breath? Breathing deeply or shallowly? If you have time, see which lasts the longest your in breath or your out breath?
- If you're feeling anxious or aggravated focus on your breath for 10 breaths.
- Make a commitment to spending 10 or more minutes each day quietly sitting, focusing on your breath and watching your thoughts run past, simply observing them as if watching clouds move across the sky.
You may find it difficult or wonder if you are doing it right to start with, this is very common but there is no wrong way to be still and watch your breath. If your mind wanders just bring to back gently by focussing again on your breath, the inhalations and the exhalations. Don't try to change your breathing just watch it.
If you find these tips and ideas helpful, you may want to consider attending a class on mindfulness or meditation, there are also many good books available which will give you much more insight and information on how to build a mindfulness practice that works for you.
Intro to Mindfulness for Chronic Pain
If you're interest in Mindfulness to help ease Chronic Pain, I highly recommend an excellent Free Webinar series produced by CIRPD (Canadian Institute for the Relief of Pain and Disability) titled Intro to Mindfulness for Chronic Pain - 5-Part Series.
As well as the Mindfulness Webinars you will also find other helpful resources for dealing with Chronic Pain at the above link including a Mindfulness Body Scan MP3 Download and an extremely helpful Guided MP3 Sitting/Standing Mindfulness Meditation.