So what’s the hype all about?
Mindfulness can be defined as the ability to be aware of our moment to moment experience, whether pleasant or unpleasant, with acceptance. It is a practice that can help people connect with the present moment in a more compassionate way. When working with clients, mindfulness skills, when practiced formally and informally, can be useful on a day to day basis - from engaging in daily activities in a rich way to being able to work through more difficult life experiences. It is a skill that needs to be practiced consistently in order to experience the benefits - it is a lifelong practice that can help reconnect you to your true, innate self.
Mindfulness practice is not new, it has been around for a long time. Much research and literature has been done on the effectiveness of mindfulness practice. From personal and professional experience, I have noticed that mindfulness practice has benefited me and my clients on many different levels. Some of the benefits include:
Mindfulness practice can help us regulate our emotional inner experiences. Often times, we may drift into storyline that leads us further away from the present experience. Specifically, we feel sadness arise and then our mind starts thinking about sad memories or future worries about loss and the more we move with such thoughts, the more it can intensify the sadness. Mindfulness can help us identify and acknowledge what is happening and can bring us back to the present moment.
ENRICHING YOUR LIFE
The practice of mindfulness can help us to appreciate the richness of the moment. Often times, we can fall back into the habit of getting lost in thought and lose sight of what’s happening around us. For instance, times when we are on vacation, and our mind wanders to concerns about the trip being to short and worrying about having to return to work. Or times when we just made ourselves a delicious lunch, and while eating it our mind starts thinking about the new restaurant that opened up or thinking of what’s for dinner. Practicing mindfulness can bring us back to the present moment, to enjoy what's happening in the here and now.
One of the main skills cultivated through mindfulness practice is compassion and acceptance. Have you ever noticed when something doesn't go the way you want it to, that you get lost in a thought pattern that is comprised of self-criticism ("I'm such an idiot", "I'm not good enough", "I can never get it right"). We, as humans, all experience this and can fall into these thought patterns. Mindfulness can help in getting us to notice and acknowledge what is happening, and helps us to respond to our thoughts in a more compassionate and non-judgemental way.