Updated: Aug 28, 2020
You may have heard people talking about mindfulness. But what is it?
A skill that many people don't learn - but which is a useful skill in managing positive and negative emotions - is controlling where your attention goes. especially when you're not distracted by *doing* something. This skill is called mindfulness. it means paying attention, without judgement, to any present moment experience.
One of the important ways that depression, panic and anxious feelings develop is through a pattern of thinking called “rumination” - or overthinking. Thinking is a NIGHTMARE. People - especially smart people - often believe that they can think their way out of their problems. Often this thinking itself causes the problem.
Have you ever been stressed, depressed, or anxious, and noticed that after you did something enjoyable or distracting that you felt better? This is because when you are paying attention to these things it is hard to pay attention to anxious or depressing thoughts. Mindfulness is the other way to sit with - and bring attention away from distressing thoughts.
Mindfulness doesn't have to be meditating - though it can be -it can be observing, describing, or participating. Basically anything that isn't thinking. This means, for instance, paying attention when you are doing a task - rather than rushing to get to the end. It means paying listening closely when you are conversing with someone - rather than imagining what you are going to say next.
If depression, panic and anxious emotions sometimes feels like you are drowning in white water rapids - mindfulness is the realisation that you can step on to the bank of the river and observe these experiences without responding - and without suffering as much.
The thing you can learn over time is that attention is like a muscle. The more you train it the stronger it gets and the more you can take control of your own mind.
Remember these things when you are being mindful:
● Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention
● Like a muscle: practice makes it stronger
● It doesn't have to be meditation. It can be paying close attention to anything you are doing - like washing the dishes or taking a bath.
● It is a key emotional regulation skill.
● If it’s hard it doesn’t mean you are failing - Every time you get distracted you learn more about your mind and how it has a tendency to think, and to ebb and flow.
Here are some famous people explaining how it helps them/; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lFf5q3TuuPA
And here is Kobe Bryant explaining why it was so important for him: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LdrVVJPlUK4
Here is a guided mindfulness practice with Jon Kabat Zinn - one of my favourites: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I9Z4t9ZiUzM
Here are some more popular guided meditations:
There are loads of free mindfulness resources online - check Youtube for guided sessions or download one of the may apps which can help you start practising.