Mind Full or Mindful?

by Tiarna Zell,  Artius Psychologist

Have you ever driven to work and not remembered the journey there? We often get in the car with “to do” lists for the day ahead or replaying last night’s conversations over in our head, we quickly forget about what we are doing, and our body goes on “auto-pilot”. We can also find ourselves ruminating about things that have already happened or worrying about the future ahead instead of paying attention to the “now”.  

Mindfulness has routinely been described as paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally (Black, 2012; Kabat-Zinn, 2003). Mindfulness focuses on specific and detailed instructions for directing and sustaining attention and can further enhance awareness of feelings and thoughts as they are experienced (White, 2012). Mindfulness is not a new concept; however, it is only in the last 30 years that it has been used therapeutically and become more mainstream (Black, 2012). Being fully present through mindful awareness has been demonstrated to be a crucial factor in providing resilience to face challenges in daily life (Siegel, 2010).

Mindfulness has also shown to be beneficial in many different areas including:

  • Stress reduction
  • Improvements in sleep
  • Management of depression
  • Anxiety
  • Improved memory
  • Attention/concentration problem-solving skills,
  • Facilitating emotion regulation (including the development of empathy)
  • Reducing heart rate
  • Improve circulation
  • Improve your immunity
  • Help with pain management
  • Encouraging healthy social interactions
  • Increase overall quality of life 

 (Black, 2012; Rocha, et al. 2012).

 The World Health Organisation have predicted mental health issues are likely to form the biggest burden on healthcare resources by 2030, so many consider mindfulness meditation to be part of the solution and an effective antidote to the pressures of modern life (Ricci, 2015).

Mindfulness can be done during regular everyday activities like walking, driving or even doing something as basic as brushing your teeth.


Tips to Being Mindful

  • Stop and observe the present moment. What is happening for you right now? What’s going on with your breathing? Is it fast or slow? How do you feel?
  • Concentrate on what’s happening around you.  What does the air feel like on your face? What can you see? What sounds can you hear?
  • Be non-judgemental. Try not to be judgemental about anything you notice. Don’t label things as ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Just notice them and let them be
  • Be kind to your wandering mind. Don’t judge yourself for whatever thoughts crop up, just practice recognising when your mind has wandered off, and gently bring it back. This is normal and part of the practice, noticing you have drifted and redirect yourself back to your breath.

 

Smiling Mind App

Smiling mind is a Not-for-Profit initiative designed to help people connect with mindfulness meditation at no cost. Jane Martino, co-creator of Smiling Mind, says mindfulness can be practiced more formally via a fun, easy-to-use, free app, however, there’s lots of ways to practice the art of being more mindful in everyday life. Just by taking an activity or daily ritual and truly paying attention.

So next time you get in the car, check in with yourself, notice what’s around you. Put your hands on the wheel and look for tension in your body. Ask yourself, “What’s my internal weather doing? Don’t seek to change it but acknowledge it”

If you or someone you know want to learn about becoming more mindful or would benefit from seeing a psychologist, please contact Artius today on 1300 986 886 or email health@artius.com.au.


References

Black, A. (2012) Living in the moment. London.

Kabat-Zinn, J. (2003) Mindfulness-Based Interventions in context: Past, Present, and Future. Clinical Psychology Science and Practice, 10 (2) 144-156. DOI: 10.1093/clipsy.bpg016

Martino, J., Tutton, J. (2016) Smiling Mind: Mindfulness made easy. Hardie Grant Books. Australia.

Ricci, C. (2015, April 15) Mindfulness very gently moving around the world’s classroom. The Age National. Retrieved fromhttp://www.theage.com.au/national/education/mindfulness-very-gently-moving-around-the-worlds-classrooms-20150412-1mf5wg.html

Rocha, K.K.F., Ribeiro, A.M., Rocha, K.C.F., Sousa, M.B.C., Albuquerque., Rebeiro, S., and Silva, R.H (2012) Improvement in Physiological and Psychological Parameters after 6 months of yoga practice. Consciousness and Cognition, 21, 847-850. DOI: 10.1016/j.concog.2012.01.014

Seigel, D.J. (2010) The Mindful Therapist: A clinician’s guide to mindsight and neural integration.

White, L.S. (2012) Reducing Stress in School-age Girls through Mindful Yoga, Journal of Paediatric Health Care, 26 (1) 45-56. DOI: 10.1016/j.pedhc.2011.01.002