Mindfulness

What is Mindfulness?

We can often experience moments where we ‘lose track of time’ and our lives become mundane and almost automatic. However, the method of mindfulness – which has been adapted from old traditional Buddhist meditation – is when one is actively focused on the present moment. Mindfulness is described as a conscious state or form of self-awareness that is now commonly used in cognitive-therapy treatment for psychological conditions. There is strong evidence to suggest that mindfulness has a significant impact on human functioning including physical and mental health, self-regulation and our behaviour.

How to practice mindfulness

Anyone can practice mindfulness – we have countless opportunities in our day to experience and exercise a mindful state, as an important part of the practice is to be non-judgmental and aim to engage wholeheartedly.  There are many characteristics of mindfulness; most notably our receptive awareness, processing of information and a present consciousness which allows us to focus on and accept our feelings, thoughts and body sensations. One of the key techniques in becoming mindful is meditation, which can be practiced through guided podcasts, online courses and meditation classes. Mindfulness meditation focuses on becoming more aware of moment-to-moment changes within our mind and body, and then being able to change how we view these changes in a positive and non-judgemental light. We can also practice mindfulness through many other techniques, including but not limited to the following:

  • Connected breathing
  • Physical activity or yoga
  • Mindful eating

What are the benefits?

As busy humans we can experience feelings of stress, anxiety and depression in our day to day lives; some more frequently than others. Mindfulness has been shown to have a positive impact on these common emotions and is associated with reduction in depression, providing assistance with maintaining other associated symptoms. The benefits of mindfulness have a significant impact on various aspects of life, including our overall mood, energy and quality of sleep, as well as job satisfaction within our work role. We know mindfulness-based cognitive therapy is now frequently used in the treatment of many mental health conditions – including bipolar disorders – to assist with emotional regulation and self-compassion for a positive outcome long-term.

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References

Hofmann, S. G., Asmundson, G. J., & Beck, A. T. (2013). The Science of Cognitive Therapy. Behavior Therapy.  

Hülsheger, U., Alberts, H., Feinholdt, A., & Lang, J. (2013). Benefits of mindfulness at work: The role of mindfulness in emotion regulation, emotional exhaustion, and job satisfaction. Journal Of Applied Psychology.  

Langer, E. (2014). Mindfulness, 25th anniversary edition (2nd ed). New York: Da Capo Press.

Williams, J., Kuyken, W. (2012). Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy: a promising new approach to preventing depressive relapse. British Journal of Psychiatry.

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