Mindfulness is ” the awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non judgementally to the unfolding of experience moment by moment" (Kabat-Zinn 2003). Research into Mindfulness has shown it to produce psychological well-being, high levels of life satisfaction, more positive affect, less negative affect, a sense of autonomy and competence and greater life satisfaction (Collard, Avny, & Boniwell, 2008, Brown & Ryan, 2003). Research also shows an association between higher levels of mindfulness and lower levels of depression and anxiety and higher levels of self-esteem and vitality (Brown &Ryan, 2003;Lakey, Kernis, Heppner &Lance. 2008).
It is well known that meditation practice enhances mindfulness and promotes psychological health in clinical and nonclinical samples (Chiesa & Seretti, 2009; Grossman et. Al. 2004). Carrying out a simple meditation exercise each day is great way to increase your mindfulness in assisting your mind to be focussed on the present, and to effectively deal with a mind that wanders or ruminates with unhelpful negative thoughts. This simple meditation focusses on the principles of mindfulness, where your attention is focussed on the here and now, in this case on your breath. As your mind wanders away from the breath, as it invariable will, perhaps to unpleasant thoughts or just general things about your day, you are encouraged to gently, without judgement, bring your attention back to the breath and the body. This does not involve trying to make the thoughts go away or to control them, but rather to merely notice they are there and then to just bring your attention once more to your breathing.
To begin this exercise sit in a comfortable chair in a relaxed but upright position, allow yourself to notice your external environment first for a few moments, then bring your awareness into your body and notice what you are feeling, what thoughts are around and what sensations you might be feeling within your body. Then begin the Mp3.
Remember this is not a quick fix and it is a skill that requires a lot of practice, but it is worth it. With practice you can learn to let go of your focus on troublesome, unhelpful or uncomfortable thoughts and notice them releasing their grip on you throughout your day.
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