Mindfulness has been shown to increase our resilience to stress and it can be an effective treatment for depression. So, what is it all about? It sounds mysterious but it is, in fact, very simple. Basically, it involves becoming quiet and focusing on just one thing at a time. You can try the following mindful eating exercise as an example. You just sit down at a table, switch off the TV, and slowly focus on the experience of tasting, smelling and eating a small meal.
It sounds simple but for many of us it can be harder than it looks. We are simply not used to going slowly and paying attention to what we are doing. Immediately our minds start to whirr into action with a cacophony of thoughts and distractions, such as, “How long do I have to do this for?” or “What do I have to do next?” or even, “This is so boring”. In mindfulness, the task is to simply notice what our mind is doing and gently bring it back to focusing on what we are doing. In mindful eating, it becomes a repetitive pattern of eating, getting distracted, returning to eating, getting distracted, over and over again.
Over time, a number of things can happen. Firstly, we can enjoy the simple act of eating and take notice of when we are full. Second, we get better at noticing our thoughts and feelings. We observe them without getting tangled up in them. Finally, we begin to get more practiced at spending time in the present moment. Which is great, because we are often absorbed by our thoughts about our past and our future. By and large, the present is where life happens. It’s good to practice spending time there.
For NHS funded therapy for stress, anxiety or depression, phone (01208) 871905 or register online [HERE].