So what is mindfulness and how do I do it?
Mindfulness is the practice of conscious awareness. With regular daily practice, we can become calmer. This happens as a result of neuroplasticity, which is the ability of the brain to form and reorganise synaptic connections; to rewire itself, especially in response to learning or experience. So regular practice is needed.
Sit comfortably with your feet on the floor. Sit away from the back of your chair, so your mind and whole body is engaged in the process and you're not likely to fall asleep. Start with your eyes open, hands resting comfortably in your lap. Take 3 deep breaths, and on an out breath allow your eyes to close. Focus on your breathing. The breath in, the breath out, and the pause in between.
According to John Kabat-Zinn, we need 7 key attitudes when practising mindfulness. The beginner's mind encourages us to be curious, noting, but not labelling any thoughts and feelings, as they occur. No effort should be used, we should be non-striving; just being present. We need to be patient, our minds wander; it's what they do. When your mind wonders, just return to your breathing. This helps us to connect mind and body. Trust in the process, and your feelings: your own inner wisdom and intuition to make good choices for you. Practice non-judgement, just resting in awareness. Letting go of your thoughts and feelings can be hard. I like to visualise a stream, with leaves floating on the surface, each thought can be placed on a leaf and watched float away. We make a compassionate connection to self by acceptance of who we are, as we are; not trying to change anything.
Whilst sitting quietly, breathing steadily, send yourself loving kindness. Try using this affirmation "may I be full of loving kindness, may I be well, may I be happy, may I be peaceful and at ease.
Mindfulness can be done at anytime of the day, ideally for 20 minutes. Choosing a regular time of the day is helpful, so that it becomes a healthy habit. It can be done anywhere, whilst doing anything. Focus fully on the task or activity; it might be brushing your teeth or going for a walk. Just note everything, using all your senses; sights, sounds, air temperature, what you can touch, smell and taste.
Thich Nhat Hanh - The Miracle Of Mindfulness
Dr Danny Penman - The Art of Breathing
My favourite mindfulness meditation: John Kabat-Zinn, The Lake