What does being ‘Mindful’, really mean? – George Blackwell

July 3, 2020

A synonymous trend that has developed alongside the growing importance of wellbeing in recent years is ‘mindfulness’, closely tied to practices of meditation and yoga, to benefit both physical and mental health.

There are various schemes being ran through schools and leading corporates, promoting mindfulness (and quite rightly) as a treatment for the issue of stress, anxiety and general poor wellbeing.

The physiological evidence supporting the practice of mindfulness is overwhelming, and from a personal perspective I’ve reaped the benefits across multiple facets of my life. However, there’s an overwhelming misconception that this practice needs to revolve around a meditation, yoga, scented candles and relaxing music.

Many of us are already experiencing the benefits of a mindfulness practice, but just don’t realise it. It’s important to acknowledge this to break down barriers to make the benefits more accessible to those that don’t appreciate being told to visualise a view of mountains and breathe out negative emotions.

My first question: Can you think of an activity that facilitates you to be aware of your own movements, thoughts and emotions?

It’s important to understand that there are many ways to get the same outcome and rewards that are promoted through yoga, meditation or other more spiritual mindfulness practices. A great comparison is food and nutrition, there are many techniques and methods to become a healthier version of yourself, it’s just about working out which is best suited to you. This takes practice, so it’s important we enjoy the activity and are comfortable in the environment to allow us to be consistent.

For many, this comes from hobbies such as drawing, painting, physical exercise, or playing a musical instrument. If you make the time for these activities every day, and they leave you feeling calm and clear minded, you may already be seeing see the benefits of a direct mindfulness practice.

If you know there is a certain activity that leaves you feeling calm and clear minded, but you can’t access it daily, do you have the opportunity recreate this environment in a different way to find the same benefits? This can take some trial and error, but it’s worth investing the time for your wellbeing.

The reason mindfulness practice through apps and other guided breathing practices has become so popular is that the barriers to participation are so small. You can do this type of practice pretty much anywhere, at any time. We recommend trying one of the free guided meditation apps, such as ‘Calm’ or ‘Headspace’, if there’s nothing that jumps out to you that I outlined previously.

The final thing I’d like to acknowledge is that this practice doesn’t need to be about ‘treating an issue’. It’s to allow you to be the best version of yourself, improve your communication with others, make better decisions and generally feel on top form as much as possible!

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