It’s sometimes too easy to stop noticing the world around us. We lose touch with the way our bodies are feeling and end up living ‘in our heads’ – over-processing, over-worrying and never seeming to have down time or respite from our thoughts. We are so caught up in our thoughts that it stops us noticing how those thoughts are driving our emotions and behaviour.
Mindfulness is about being present and reconnecting with our bodies and the sensations they experience. This means becoming aware or awakening to the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of the present moment. That could be something as simple as the feel of the door handle as we open it. It is important to remember that part of mindfulness is an awareness of our thoughts and feelings as they happen moment to moment. We allow ourselves, without judgement, to be present more calmly and clearly, when we do, positive changes can occur.
Mindfulness allows us to become more aware of the thoughts and feelings that we experience and allows us to see how we can become entangled in those thoughts in a way which is not helpful. It allows us to stand back from our thoughts and start to see their patterns. Gradually, we can re-train ourselves to notice when our thoughts are taking over and realise that our thoughts are simply ‘mental events’ that do not have to control us.
The practice of Mindfulness also helps us notice signs of stress and anxiety earlier and helps us deal with them better. Mindfulness is also recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) as a way to prevent depression in people who have had 3 or more bouts of depression in the past.