Mindfulness Centre 3, Coates Place Edinburgh
What is Mindfulness?
First of all, you don’t have to be a Buddhist to be mindful (although it helps!)
Mindfulness is the practice of awareness and presence.
Thich Nhat Hahn, a respected Zen teacher gives this thought a perspective –
‘We already are what we want to become. We don’t have to run after anything anymore. We only need to return to ourselves and touch our true nature. When we do we have real peace and joy.’
It is an obvious truth that the mind will take on the quality of what it dwells on.
Think about the things have filled your mind today. Perhaps difficulties at home or work, a lack of money and time, feeling tired and all the other contributing elements of the troubled times around us.
It takes an effort of will and practice to calm our minds and concentrate them on the present, seeing beyond problems to the growth and strength that results from meeting and overcoming challenges.
The new idea here is that change and progress can be achieved simply by deep awareness, without the need for a lot of mind games.
This flies in the face of many of the cognitive talking therapies that stress self efficacy through will power and mind control.
Awareness helps us to understand the habits and conditioning that we have accumulated and the route to freedom that beckons.
Does it help with stress?
If your mind is cluttered with too many things; if you are constantly striving for things in life; if you neglect to be peaceful and calm – you will end up stressed.
The problem with stress, like growing old, is that it creeps up on you until some of the symptoms demand your notice.
We often delude ourselves that we can cope and drive ever nearer the health breakdown that will never be far away.
Psychologist Connie Lillas uses a driving analogy to describe the three most common ways people respond when they’re overwhelmed by stress:
Foot on the gas – An angry or agitated stress response. You’re heated, keyed up, overly emotional, and unable to sit still.
- Foot on the brake – A withdrawn or depressed stress response. You shut down, space out, and show very little energy or emotion.
- Foot on both – A tense and frozen stress response. You “freeze” under pressure and can’t do anything. You look paralysed, but under the surface you’re extremely agitated.
Am I in control of stress or is stress controlling me?
When I feel agitated, do I know how to quickly calm and soothe myself?
- Can I easily let go of my anger?
- Can I turn to others at work to help me calm down and feel better?
- When I come home at night, do I walk in the door feeling alert and relaxed?
- Am I seldom distracted or moody?
- Am I able to recognize upsets that others seem to be experiencing?
- Do I easily turn to friends or family members for a calming influence?
- When my energy is low, do I know how to boost it?
Mindfulness is the golden road to living without anxiety
It is well established that the relaxation response is at the heart of de-stressing the body and the royal road to the body is breathing, the starting point of all good mindfulness practice.
The following breathing exercise is a powerful, yet simple, introduction to the art of Mindfulness
- Develop awareness of both the sources of our stress and the reflex to move away from them
- Learn to accept and become aware of our emotions without panicking
- Connect with the present moment through our senses, turning away from the stream of thinking
- Decide which thoughts are useful and rejecting those that are not
- Improve communication skills, enabling us to enjoy more fulfilling interactions and relationships
What changes can I expect?
- Stress (work, family, relationships, illness, food/eating, worry, time pressure…)
- Chronic pain and illness
- Anxiety and panic
- Insomnia and fatigue
- Medical conditions (high blood pressure, heart disease, asthma, skin disorders, headaches)
- Connecting with the present moment
- Perception & creative responding
- Practice, practice, practice
- Exploring stress reactivity
- Responding to stress
- Interpersonal mindfulness & mindful communication
- Finding your own way to practice mindfulness
- The rest of your life