Mindfulness is a practical skill that can be learned and refined. The practice is ideally learned one-to-one with a coach. A class is also a good place to develop skills with others with similar intentions.
Mindfulness is about being aware of the present moment without judgement. You are not trying to stop thinking or clear your mind, but rather just being aware of what is happening right NOW. Being present means that thoughts of past or future pose no threat.
Here are 3 skills to practice:
- Lying or sitting comfortably, close your eyes and gently take your focus to your body, noticing the contact with the bed or chair. Now take your attention to your breathing, noticing the rise and fall of your chest as you breathe in and out. In particular note how your body relaxes on your out-breath. This a natural response and one that can be used to consciously reduce muscle tension. You are creating an awareness of how your body is feeling. When your mind wanders, or something grabs your attention (e.g. pain, a noise, a feeling in your body), gently bring your focus back to your breath. Continue to 5-10 minutes, gradually building the time to a 20 minute session. 20 minutes a day is a good period of time to practice mindful breathing.
- Mindful tasks — when you are doing a job at home, at work or walking, take note of what is happening right now. Become aware of the sensations, the surroundings, your thoughts, your body; but without judgement. Just be. Notice how the weight of worry eases.
- Check-in — this is when you create awareness of what is happening right NOW. How am I feeling? What am I thinking? What is my body doing? You can do this as often as you like. The more, the better because it gives you the opportunity to make a change.
In the sessions you will learn how to develop these skills for the purposes of overcoming your pain, tackling stress, improving your ability to focus and perform at work or in sports.