What is it about mindfulness that so many people including psychologists talk about?
Looking back in time, 20 years ago, mindfulness was unknown in Western Medicine and Psychology. About 10 years ago it became established and a few training courses were offered. Mindfulness was on the rise and its popularity spread with enormous pace. What once was a concept exclusively held in Eastern philosophy and practice, and frowned upon by Mainstream Medicine and Psychology, became an integral part of Western healing.
Many years of practice and research shows that people suffering from depression and anxiety can benefit a lot. These clients often feel they do not have much control over their feelings and experiences.They feel stressed out, for a significant amount of time. Learning and practicing mindfulness gives them back sense of control, when they discover that they can actually regulate feelings, that they can actually relax and enjoy activities more. For instance, mindfulness helps to enjoy the small things in life, the scent of a freshly baked cake, the taste of a soup, the smile of a stranger at the train station, a cloud formation, …. (you fill in the gap). As you see, it does not have to cost a fortune. Life can be good …. several times a day.
There are many ways to practice mindfulness. People often start with guided meditation, when they first get in touch with mindfulness, which can be a great way to initiate relaxation and to clear your mind. Practicing mindfulness, however, is not limited to mediation or imagery work. We can practice mindfulness by doing everyday activities e.g. mindfully washing dishes, having a shower and travelling in peak-hour traffic – mindfully, yes, that can be a challenge for some.
A central element of Mindfulness is the practice to be fully in the present moment or in the “now”. This means not to engage with worries about the future or with dwelling on the past. This means not to daydream or to do two things at a time. The focus of attention is rather and only in the now. Engaging fully with one activity. This is because true life is only now, when all our senses are connected to the same focus of “what is” right now. At the beginning of your practice though, this is easier said than done.
Attending a group is a great way to get started. Utilising good quality audio recordings is another way to immerse yourself into mindfulness and to reconnect with yourself. Quality recordings can be found on my website, free to download, under New Paths Resources. These were created by Clinical Psychologist Mal Huxter of Northern NSW, who is a fabulous psychologist and very experienced mindfulness teacher.
My own history and practice spans back a long time. A personal encounter with Mal Huxter in 2009 inspired me to immerse myself into it and I have used his recordings a lot. These days, I tend to do my own mindfulness practice more in everyday activities, including sports. For instance, swimming can be at times a bit monotonous. Being mindful of my movements, the rhythms of my strokes and breathing actually helps me to enjoy the exercise and time seems to pass much quicker. It’s the bliss of Flow.
Frank Breuer, Clinical Psychologist