Mindfulness

The gift of being fully present within ourselves
 
Melissa Purcell
Psychologist

Have you ever gotten in the car and then found yourself at home with no recollection of how you arrived? Or had a conversation with someone and not felt really ‘there’? Modern life is complicated – we work long hours, attend to the needs of our families, maintain connections with friends, undertake study, engage in hobbies and play sports, spend increasingly longer amounts of time on the phone and at the computer – every day we encounter and need to process new and incredibly diverse information from the world about ourselves, others and the world. We are flooded with thoughts and feelings and sensations and to deal with this our brains filter out a lot of information. Sometimes it feels like we are not really present in the moment, that we are on auto-pilot. We feel distracted. We forget about things our partners tell us. We worry about something and it seems like we can’t think about or deal with anything else.

Mindfulness relates to participating fully in the world. Mindfulness is about paying attention with curiosity and acceptance to what is happening right now inside and outside us without judging or grasping. Rather than blocking out things, or trying to avoid thoughts or feelings that we are having, it’s about opening up, respecting our senses, noticing and acknowledging things in the present moment.

For centuries Eastern cultures have practiced and spoken about the importance of mindfulness, but in the West it has taken people longer to realise and study the benefits of this type of practice. The benefits of mindfulness are becoming better understood, proving that it can slow down brain activity, leading to:

  • Better focus  
  • Less anxiety
  • Improved memory     
  • Greater calm
  • Emotional stability

Research showing positive results of mindfulness interventions continues to grow and has shown that mindfulness can be useful in a wide range of clinical problems including:

  • Chronic pain   
  • Anxiety and Depression
  • Post-traumatic stress
  • Relationship conflict

You can incorporate little acts of mindfulness into your everyday life:

Go for a walk: Pay attention to the swinging of your arms, feel the pressure of your feet as they roll over the pavement, notice the sounds of birds and the feel of sunlight on your face.

Sit in a quiet place by yourself: Take 5 deep breaths, inhaling and exhaling slowly. Notice how the air feels colder on your nostrils when you breathe in and warmer on your nostrils when you breathe out.

Sit and eat your dinner with the television and phone off: Approach the meal with great curiosity as if you were encountering this food for the first time. What does it look like? Notice the smells that waft towards you. As you eat, chew slowly. What do you notice about the texture of the food? How does it feel in your mouth? Notice and savour the taste.

For more information and guidance on Mindfulness contact our Richmond rooms to schedule an appointment with Melissa today.