You’re hearing it in schools, in the workplace, and on social media, this idea or concept of being “mindful” or “mindfulness”. So, what exactly is this “new” technique that everyone is talking about?
The concept of mindfulness has been around for centuries. Mindfulness provided the way in early Buddhism to liberation, “constantly watching sensory experience in order to prevent the arising of cravings, which would power future experience into rebirths”. It is believed that the practice of dhyana, which is a series of cultivated states of mind that lead to a “state of perfect equanimity and awareness” may have been the original core practice of the Buddha, which aided the maintenance of mindfulness.
Today in modern psychology we look upon mindfulness as the process of developing the skill of bringing one’s attention to whatever is happening in the present moment. To really allow ourselves to experience what is happening to us and around us at an exact moment in time, to “stop and smell the roses”.
Although it can sometimes seem very challenging to tap into ourselves at certain moments, with practice through a series of different skills and techniques, such a meditation and deep breathing exercises, you can learn how to be present in the moment, which can have a profound impact on your mind, body and soul.
The act of being mindful can lead to a reduction in stress and anxiety and provide an overall sense of calmness when done regularly.
I have used mindfulness techniques and skills throughout my therapeutic practice to help clients feel more centered and aware of their emotional state. The wonderful thing about some of these techniques is that they can be applied anywhere at any time, allowing us a moment to regroup and reset in a sometimes very hectic day.
One technique that can be used anywhere is Anchoring. It is a wonderful way to calm yourself and refocus your thoughts. You start by directing your attention into the lower ½ of your body. Begin by focusing on your feet and how they feel inside your socks or shoes and against the ground. Expand your attention to include the sensations in your lower legs and then your upper legs. Do they feel heavy or light? Warm or cold? Tingly or numb? Now move upwards to include the sensation of your breathing, really focus and concentrate on relaxing as you exhale each breath. Continue to do this until you feel you have centered yourself and are in a calm state.
This is a great exercise you can do any time with your eyes open or closed, while sitting, or even as you are walking around. This exercise can help you be mindful of your own body and what you are experiencing at that moment. It allows you to let go of negativity and center yourself in a positive calm state of mind.
So, the next time you are feeling stressed or just need a moment, be Mindful, anchor yourself and then breathe.