Mindfulness appears to be increasingly popular and the word “mindful” is used liberally perhaps without understanding what mindful is and what any benefits accrue from practising mindfulness. Mindfulness practice is not easy; it can be difficult and takes effort. Mindfulness practice is a skill that one can develop with practice. Such skill is worth developing as leading a more mindful life can help us to cope better with stress and feel less anxious and depressed.
While our working lives are busy enough, these days even our free time is usually occupied with smartphones and computers. How often do you find yourself distracted with emails, text messages, and social media messages? Similarly, our minds can feel like a relentless stream of thoughts, worries and emotions leading to increased stress and decreased concentration. We can feel a lack of control over our lives as we find ourselves purely reacting to situations rather than actively choosing how we want to respond.
While you might think that Mindfulness is about trying to silence the mind of these endless thoughts, but actually it teaches us to observe them non-judgmentally; so, they become only as valid as we choose to make them. Instead of dwelling on the past or the future, Mindfulness re-focuses our minds fully into the present moment, allowing us to appreciate even the tiniest moments. Practising Mindfulness has been shown to make people calmer, aid sleep, enhance concentration and relieve stress by giving the mind time to act rather than react. Mindfulness promotes a sense of wellbeing and control over one’s own life.
This is an example of how Mindfulness has helped a 15 year old schoolgirl who was experiencing anxiety about her studies. At the start she scored moderate anxiety and high stress. She completed 1:2:1 MBCT. At the end of the course, her anxiety had dropped to the normal range and her stress scores normalised and reported the following “My mindset has taken a change from a more skeptical outlook to a positive one as time on the experience has progressed. It has also become one which I can enjoy carrying on at home to help to relax. I have learnt effective methods to control the feelings of anxiety when they arise and in being mindful of more I am more calm in these situations.” Her mother commented that “she is in the middle of her GCSEs. I don’t know if she is doing her mindfulness practice but suspect that she must be doing something. I was really dreading this time but she is so calm, no tears, no what ifs and I have not had to, even once, calm her down”.
Dr Hagen Rampes, Consultant Psychiatrist, is an experienced mindfulness teacher. He is trained to teach Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) which is an 8 week course which can be done in a group or individually. Dr Rampes offers free taster sessions on mindfulness in Mill Hill, London.