What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a process through which we focus on the present moment and become fully engaged in what we are doing or sensing right now. It entails being fully connected to our body, emotions, actions, and thoughts: observing them without judging them.
Mindfulness is a practice, not a theoretical concept. This means that we need to practice it regularly for it to have the desired impact. Anything that we practice repeatedly (beneficial or harmful) changes our brain structure through a process known as neuroplasticity. Hence, by repeating mindfulness exercises, we reduce the connections in our brains that lead to anxiety and fear, and increase those linked to concentration, problem-solving, and a general sense of wellbeing.
Although mindfulness is a practice, it doesn’t mean that we need to start doing something new. Instead, what we need to change is how we do what we already do. Very often we lose touch with the present moment and focus mainly on the past and the future. We are afraid and worried about what has happened, or about what is to come. In so doing, we end up feeling disconnected or overwhelmed. This can lead to decrease in performance and even mental health problems. Instead, mindfulness is about living our everyday lives in the present moment with more awareness and being connected to our body and our emotions. We can still eat that that lovely meal. But this time, we can savour every bite rather than being caught up with what we’re going to do next!
Benefits of mindfulness
Scientific studies have shown that mindfulness has a number of benefits on our minds and bodies. These include:
- Reducing stress, anxiety and fear
- Decreasing the feeling of being overwhelmed
- Increasing concentration, attention and energy levels
- Enhancing performance and problem-solving
- Improving sleep
- Taking back control of what influences us
- Gaining insight
- Increasing happiness
Mindfulness or psychotherapy?
Our mind can be overwhelmingly busy and disconnected from the present moment for two reasons. The first is that we are caught up with life, with what we need (or think we need) to do, and not paying attention to what we are experiencing. We got used to living a fast-paced life, and we end up living mostly in our heads and forgetting our bodies. With this kind of busyness, stopping to connect to our bodies and emotions will feel very strange initially. But mindfulness can help us slow down the rhythm of life, become more in control of what is happening, and improve mental and physical wellbeing.
However, our mind might also be actively (and unconsciously) keeping itself very busy because it is trying to ‘protect’ us from uncomfortable emotions or memories, often related to past events in our lives. In these cases, our mind is afraid that if we connect to the present moment, we will connect to the difficult memories and the feelings of pain, shame, guilt, sadness, or anger, and that we will be overwhelmed my them. This leads to a sense of being out of control which can be very terrifying. In such cases, mindfulness can still be very useful as it offers us ways of staying calm and grounded. It teaches our mind that there can be a different way of dealing with difficult situations. However, when such memories or experiences come up, it could be helpful to go into psychotherapy as this allows you to work through the difficulties at a deep level so that they no longer trigger such overwhelming reactions.
Mindfulness sessions I offer
As a mindfulness coach I offer mindfulness sessions for both individuals and groups. During the sessions we will look at what is causing you disturbance, and how you would like your life to be different. We will then look at how to incorporate mindfulness practices in a way that allows you to develop a more present-oriented and happier life. Should difficult issues come up during sessions, as a trained psychotherapist I can offer you therapy sessions myself or refer you to another therapist, depending on your preference.
I also offer mindfulness sessions to groups. Currently, I am not running any group sessions, however, if you are interested in being informed about them, please sign up for the newsletter. If you are a member of your own group and want to organise mindfulness sessions for your group, please get in touch with me.
Work is one of the main stressors for individuals, something that drastically reduces productivity at the workplace. Some businesses make the conscious effort to invest in reducing their employees’ stress levels which ultimately benefits them in the process as it increases performance and employee satisfaction. As a psychotherapist and coach trained in mindfulness-based stress reduction, I offer sessions to employees in businesses with the view of improving wellbeing and performance. Please book an initial free phone call to discuss your needs.