Almost everyone of us are living life on Autopilot. 6:00 am: The alarm rings. The race begins! freshen up, dress our children, have lunch, rush to the office or school. In short, a beginning of the usual hectic day. As soon as the alarm rings, we hold our breath until the end of the day where we can finally sit on the sofa to exhale before returning to our bed again. We run every day and continually anticipate, plan and adapt in order to do everything we can to the best of our ability.
Then there are times when we feel like it's too much. Moments where thoughts keep spinning in our head and where we feel more at the verge of explosion, more overtaken by emotions. What would happen if we stopped for a moment? If, for a few minutes, every day, we stopped racing, planning and simply be "here and now" in the present moment?
Nowadays we hear a lot about mindfulness in the world of yoga and psychology. Now, there are misconceptions about what mindfulness is and what it means. So, what is mindfulness, exactly?
Mindfulness is a state of consciousness that results from intentionally paying attention to the present moment, in the absence of any judgement of the experience that unfolds moment by moment. In simplest word mindfulness means "full presence" at the moment.
How is it different from Meditation?
Although the terms meditation and mindfulness are often used interchangeably both are two different concepts.
Meditation is a general term that includes all the ways used to awaken one's consciousness. Meditation can take many forms. For example, heart-centered meditation is about focusing on the energy center of that organ. The followers of transcendental meditation, for their part, repeat a word, phrase or sound (called a mantra) to calm their minds.
Benefits of Practising Mindfulness:
Today, mindfulness is used in hospitals to help in different areas like -
- Management of stress, chronic anxiety, insomnia
- Prevention of depressive relapses
- Management of impulsivity (temper tantrums, binge eating ...)
- Management of chronic pain
- Management of distress in the face of chronic disease
Among the beneficial effects indicated by the researches conducted on this form of meditation, one counts first of all a decrease of the stress and depressive and anxiety symptoms, and this, in the long term. It is also interesting to note that people practicing mindfulness meditation regularly tend to have fewer negative automatic thoughts and can more easily get rid of these thoughts as they arise.
In addition, mindfulness meditation can effectively reduce thoughts of rumination, which other methods of relaxation do not allow. Finally, the ability to bring those thoughts back to the present moment and to be mindful is associated, among other things, with being more empathetic, optimistic, pleasant, full of vitality, and having a better mood. This ability is also associated with a decrease in the intensity of delusions during a psychosis, as could be the case in a person with schizophrenia.
If you experience a high level of stress, if you have panic attacks or anxiety, if you are feeling depressed, this meditation approach may be an asset to help you calm the emotions that control your life. On the other hand, you will quickly realize that mastering one's thoughts is not as easy as one believes. This is a life process. However, with the right methods and the right approaches, everything is possible.
Tips to reach the state of mindfulness:
To practice mindfulness, you do not need to recite mantras or burn incense (unless you really like). No need to sit down and watch in the void every day for hours.
- Take the time to stop whenever possible and at least once a day to ask yourself the following questions:
- What do I feel right now?
- Am I aware of what I am doing or am I on the autopilot?
- Take the time to breathe deeply and gently. Take the time to feel the sensations of your breath in your nostrils, chest and belly.
- Take the time to listen to the sounds around you without looking for the source, just listen to it and be aware of the noises around you.
- Take the time to observe what is happening around you. Observe as if this were the first time, with a fresh look at your work environment, your colleagues, your friends, your family.
- Take the time to touch to feel what surrounds you.
- When work meetings are long and difficult, take a break with your teams. A few minutes to talk about an unrelated subject, to listen to a new song, to taste a new snack or simply to do a few minutes of yoga or visualization and then you will have a more productive and creative meeting.
Mindfulness can be practiced everywhere. During your walks, take the time to slow down and feel, to breathe and to listen. When work requires a lot of time and energy, take the time to stop at least once in a day to put yourself in a state of mindfulness for a moment Just as with meditation and yoga, reaching a state of mind requires practice.
The contents of this article are for informational purposes only. This is not a professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your mental health professional or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding your condition.