Mindfulness and mind health
Our physical health is very much linked to our mind health – a happy mind means a happy body.
We are very used to attending to our physical needs, whether it’s through exercise, eating well, skin care etc. But for most of us our mind is forgotten about and we have little awareness of the impact the mind has on the body. For example how conscious are you of your mind activity on a day to day basis? The internal dialogue, thoughts, positive and negative, the way you talk to yourself? And how these thoughts make you feel.
Why is this important? We have a little saying in Yoga “prana follows thought”, prana, the life force energy, follows whatever we focus on. Our thoughts are very powerful in shaping our life and our happiness. Our actions begin as thoughts, our thoughts influence how we feel about ourselves and others. Perhaps we are all only really limited in life by our own beliefs and attitudes. How often do we believe we can’t do something and then instantly give up trying? E.g. I believe I’m rubbish at technology and typically run from it! However during lock down I have been forced to embrace it and make it part of my Therapy practice. On reflection it has been a useful opportunity for me to face it head on and realise it’s benefits. Using Zoom has opened up a whole host of positives I hadn’t even appreciated existed, as well as improving my confidence using technology! Maybe if we spent less time focusing on our limitations and more time focusing on what we can do and influence, we could really impact our present moment and future in a positive way!
We all have the ability to direct our attention with conscious effort, it’s under voluntary control. However it’s hard to rest it in a specific place and keep it there, it takes practise! Amazingly, your mind is very trainable, and practise makes perfect! There are also lots of benefits – your ability to concentrate will improve and you will gain more control over your mind activity. Focusing on just one thing with full awareness is very calming, activating the relaxed response, taking you away from your day to day worries and enabling you to witness your experiences rather than being so swept away by them. Developing better emotional resilience, means negative experiences will have less impact on you.
Mindfulness is natural. The trouble is most of us only stay mindful for only a few seconds at a time. The trick is to have more “episodes” of mindfulness and to lengthen and deepen them. Becoming more mindful in our everyday life brings us into the present moment, where we can truly appreciate the abundance of life, see the beauty all around, and experience a sense of aliveness like nothing else.
Here’s how: set aside 10 minutes a day to be mindful, to really experience the world through your five senses. Maybe choose one thing to focus on each week, e.g. noticing the needs of family and friends e.g listening with full attention. Whilst out on a walk fully appreciate the wonders of nature e.g. wonderful autumn colours, red, orange, brown, yellow, green, listen to bird song. Feel the warmth of the sun on your face. Notice the wonderful smell coming from the oven etc.
Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift, that is why it’s called THE PRESENT