Coping with stress
Many people find it hard to cope with the pressure of modern living. Every day a quarter of a million people miss work because of stress, with 75 per cent of all illnesses thought to be stressed related. And when times are hard, it can be difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Mindfulness is a way of paying attention to the present moment, using techniques like meditation, breathing and yoga. It helps us become more aware of our thoughts and feelings so that instead of being overwhelmed by them, we’re better able to manage them.
Practicing mindfulness can give people more insight into their emotions, boost their attention and concentration and improve relationships. It’s proven to help with stress, anxiety, depression and addictive behaviours and can even have a positive effect on physical problems like hypertension, heart disease and chronic pain.
Anyone can learn mindfulness. It’s simple, you can practice it anywhere, and the results can be life-changing.
In a car, we can sometimes drive for miles on ‘automatic pilot’, without really being aware of what we are doing. In the same way, we may not be really ‘present’ moment-by-moment, for much of our lives: we can often be ‘miles away’ without knowing it.
On automatic pilot, we are more likely to have our ‘buttons pressed’. Events around us and thoughts, feelings and sensations in the mind (of which we may be only dimly aware) can trigger old habits of thinking that are often unhelpful and may lead to worsening mood.
By becoming more aware of our thoughts, feelings, and body sensations, from moment to moment, we give ourselves the possibility of greater freedom and choice; we do not have to go into the same old ‘mental ruts’ that may have caused problems in the past.
The primary focus in Mindfulness Meditation is the breathing. However, the primary goal is a calm, non-judging awareness, allowing thoughts and feelings to come and go without getting caught up in them. This creates calmness and acceptance.
- Sit comfortably, with your eyes closed and your spine reasonably straight.
- Direct your attention to your breathing
- When thoughts, emotions, physical feelings or external sounds occur, simply accept them, giving them the space to come and go without judging or getting involved with them.
- When you notice that your attention has drifted off and becoming caught up in thoughts or feelings, simply note that the attention has drifted, and then gently bring the attention to your breathing.
It’s ok and natural for thoughts to arise, and for your attention to follow them. No matter how many times this happens, just keep bringing your attention back to your breathing. www.getselfhelp.co.uk/mindfulness.htm
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