Mindfulness focuses on the here and now - how are you feeling internally and externally on a moment by moment basis. Focusing on the present prevents us dwelling on past issues or worrying to much about the future. This allows us time to bring our nervous system back into balance.
In practice, mindfulness often focuses on repetitive action such as breathing or chanting. It can be applied to activities such as walking, exercising, eating or meditating.
For mindful practice the following are necessary:
- A quiet environment - somewhere you are free from distraction
- A comfortable position - sitting on a chair, lotus position etc, try not to lie down
- A focus - something to concentrate your mind. It can be an object, a feeling, some words or an image
Exercise: Breathing to connect
Sit or lie comfortably with your eyes closed. For the next six minutes connect with your breathing. Notice the gentle rise and fall of your rib cage and follow the air in and out of your lungs. Let any thoughts and feelings come and go, and each time you notice that your attention has wandered, gently refocus (you'll need to do this again and again... and again). For the next three minutes expand your awareness so that you're aware of your body and feelings as well as your breath. For the final minute open your eyes and connect with the room around you, as well as with your body, your feelings, and your breathing (Harris, 2007).
For more about mindfulness see an article by Chartered Counselling Psychologist, Dr Tasim Martin.