Mindfulness: Part II

This is a follow up article to my previous article on mindfulness; if you have not read the first article you can do so by clicking here. In this article I will be focusing on various methods which help a person to become more mindful.

Meditation

Meditation is definitely my favourite way of practising mindfulness. This is because I have reaped the most benefits from using this method in my experience.

Meditation is most effective when performed every day. However, for beginners it can be hard to meditate as they either do not know what they are doing or are struggling to meditate for a length period of time. Therefore I’d recommend beginning meditating for 5 minutes a day until you get the hang of it, then steadily increase the length of time to 10 minutes, then 15 and so on. I have found that meditating for 20 – 30 minutes a day is the most ideal; or to meditate in the morning for 15 minutes, followed by another meditation of 15 minutes in the evening.

Basic Meditation

To begin meditating, sit crossed legged on the floor or on a cushion or mat for more comfort. Do not slouch and keep the crown of your head facing upwards, rest your hands on your lap and use your thumbs to create a bridge with each other. You can either close your eyes or keep them slightly open, I prefer to keep mine closed. Focus on your breathing whilst breathing in and out of your nose, after focusing on this for a short while, begin to breathe naturally. You will begin to think all kinds of thoughts, however, these thoughts are just ‘clouds’ that are passing by, you are aware of them but do not focus on them or on one particular thought. Simply acknowledge them, and let them pass by. Meditation is not the absent of thoughts, rather it is the practise of mental stillness. Set a timer for your chosen duration, and practise this routinely.

Yoga

Yoga is an amazing tool for stress relief and becoming mindful as it requires you to understand how your body works and be aware of your own body in order to perform more complex poses. Another benefit of yoga is that as well as being great for your mental health, it is also great for your physical health.

There are various types of yoga, but it is important to start with the basics, and then to move on and either specialise in one type of yoga, or mix it up and as you improve your posture, balance and strength; do more complex poses.

Mindfulness in Everyday Life

By doing some small and simple things, we can become more mindful in everyday life. By acknowledging our thoughts, feelings and senses as they occur, we being to understand them better, and can see things from a new perspective.

When following the same every day routine, we often become machine like, and do not notice many things. When you begin to pay attention to the small things, it can have a very big impact on how you see the world.

Mindfulness can be very rewarding and can improve all aspects of your life. It is a wonderful tool that can be used and benefited by all, including those with mental illness in particular.

Mindfulness – A Brief Overview

Mindfulness can be beneficial to everyone, however, it can be particularly beneficial to those suffering from any mental illness.

Mindfulness can help you manage your thoughts and feelings rather than being overwhelmed by them. Those who take part in mindfulness meditation have proved to have shown an increase of activity within the region of the brain which is associated with positive emotion, this part of the brain is called the pre-frontal cortex.

In people with depression, there is usually a lack of activity in this area. However, practising mindfulness meditation can and will improve the amount of activity in this area.

Mindfulness meditation has been shown to affect how the brain works, and even its structure. That is why it is important for both those suffering from mental illness, and those who aren’t, to practice mindfulness in order to improve mental health and their overall wellbeing.

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is being aware of your thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations. It is reconnecting with our bodies, and allowing ourselves to see the present moment clearly. Rather than focusing on the issues of the past or future. Becoming more aware of the present moment, can allow us to positively change the way we see our lives and positively change our lives themselves. Mindful awareness allows us to notice anxiety and stress earlier, therefore allowing us to deal with them better, before the person feels consumed by their emotions. Although, it is also a great way to relieve yourself if you are consumed and overwhelmed by your emotions.

For mindfulness to be most effective, it is important to practise it regularly. As well as practising mindful meditation, you can become more mindful in your everyday life by taking notice of your thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations as they occur in the present moment; noticing the world around you is also an important step in becoming more mindful.

There are many different mindfulness techniques, but the ones I would most recommend as I have found them to be the most beneficial, is mindfulness meditation and yoga.

Personal Experience

I have practised mindfulness meditation many times over the years, however, sometimes I fail to stick to my practise; it can be extremely hard to keep up with when your mental illness takes all of your motivation away.

When I practise mindfulness regularly, I have seen an improvement in my own mental health. It allows me to process thoughts subconsciously whilst focusing on the present moment only. A big step in mindfulness is accepting your thoughts, rather than fighting them. Once you accept your thoughts and feelings, you can let them pass. I have found mindfulness useful in aiding concentration, as well as providing insight into my thoughts and emotions. Which leads to an improved wellbeing for myself, as well as giving me the ability to improve relationships and various areas of my life.