What is Mindfulness?
- Mindfulness is NOT automatic pilot mode – for instance when you are doing a familiar task such as driving a car, your mind is often miles away thinking about something else.
- Mindfulness is about being aware of the present moment. Being here and now.
- It is referred to the “being” mode – it offers a way to free oneself from automatic and unhelpful ways of thinking and responding. (Jon Kabat-Zinn, 1990). This is particularly helpful in dealing with daily stress – which in turn helps maintain health and wellness.
- As an occupational therapist I enjoy working with clients to enable them to connect the “being” of mindfulness with the “doing” of their occupations (or day to day activities).
“Mindfulness is the intentional cultivation of moment to moment
What are the Benefits of Mindfulness?
Mindfulness can benefit almost any condition that involves suffering or has a stress-based aspect including-:
- Persistent pain (Stroh-Gingrich, 2012)
- Psoriasis, anxiety, depression, cancer, substance abuse (Kabat-Zinn, 1990)
- Traumatic experiences (McCabe-Ruff & MacKenzie, 2009)
- Acquired brain injury (Bedard et al., 2005)
3 Mindfulness Tips
- Mindful Breathing:
Take a moment to close your eyes and bring your attention to your breath. Without feeling the need to change it in any way. Just notice the breath as it enters and exits your nostrils or mouth. Visualize it travelling down your throat and into your lungs. Notice the rise and fall of your chest or abdomen as you breath in and out. Visualize the breath travelling out of your lungs, up your throat and feel it exiting your nose or mouth. Continue to pay attention to this rhythmic cycle of your breath. If thoughts or distractions arise, simple notice them without frustration or judgement and return your attention to your breath. Start with a practice of a few minutes and gradually increase the time.
- Mindful Eating:
Whether you are having a snack or a meal take a moment to use all your senses to really be present. Before putting your food into your mouth, use your eyes to see the colours and textures of your food. Bring the food to your nose and smell it. With your fingers touch it and feel the textures or the smoothness. You may even bring it to your ear and listen for sounds or even the absence of sound. Placing the food in your mouth fully pay attention to the sensations and tastes.
- Mindful Walking:
Before starting to walk notice how you stand – the way your head rests on your shoulders, how your arms rest at your sides, the arches in your back, the way your feet connect with the ground. Taking a few deep breaths in and out start walking slowly. Use a pace that allows you to fully pay attention to your feet connecting to the ground, the strides of your legs, and the sway of your arms. Notice all the little details involved in walking!