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Are you mindful? We don’t mean being considerate to people, although that’s great, we mean are you really aware of your experiences from moment to moment and how it feels to live in the present?
Mindfulness is a deliberate and disciplined set of practices that fosters awareness of each moment and how you are experiencing those moments. It’s a kind of metacognitive technique, “thinking about thinking” that lets you take more control of your mental and emotional world.
On a practical level, mindfulness involves meditation, Yoga and body awareness. In a clinical setting practising these techniques can reduce stress and its deleterious physical and mental effect. Formally, this is known as Mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR).
This system was popularized by Dr. Jon Zabat-Kim and has become ever more refined compared to its spiritual, cultural and religious roots. Mindfulness based stress reduction is a secular practice and clinical trials have shown that it has the potential to reduce stress in individuals who practice it. It should be clear that Mindfulness based stress reduction does not aim nor claim to cure any disease, but to help individuals manage the mental toll of everyday life as part of an overall approach to wellness.
What do I do?
The Mindfulness based stress reduction programme can take a variety of forms. For some people it may involve a group setting over a number of weeks, accompanied by a series of homework assignments.
Another effective method is by learning at home via online training. Of course there are a great many advantages with this option, including convenience and flexibility as well as the major factor for most, being financial. Online training is often a fraction of the cost of attending group meetings, meaning that it can be available for everyone.
During your Mindfulness based stress reduction training you will learn how to meditate, how to scan your body and simple Yoga poses. In fact, for nearly the first half of the programme you’ll only be learning body scanning as a foundation for the other methods.
Is it for me?
Although Mindfulness based stress reduction is not a treatment for any condition it can help to alleviate subjective symptoms for people suffering from depression, anxiety and stress. It also helps people with the management of pain, both physical and emotional.
It takes commitment on your part though and results vary from person to person. If done right and with a receptive subject it can make a significant difference in your quality of life and there’s nothing to lose but a little time and effort with no side effects.