If you suffer from stress, worry, anxiety, depression or insomnia, or if you are burdened by the constant chatter of Headmind, with it’s focus on useless guilt over the past, or on future disasters that will never happen, then Mindfulness is something you should learn to practice.
For me the practice of Mindfulness is the most important tool in therapy and in this article I want to show you a variety of ways in which you can achieve it.
What is Mindfulness?
‘Mindfulness’ is, strictly speaking, a misnomer. A better description would be ‘Mindlessness’ – a state in which the internal chatter has quietened down and the person is simply aware of being in the body, in the present moment, now. What ‘fills’ the conscious mind at such moments is awareness – what is seen, heard and felt but without judgment and without conceptualizing anything. So a door is just a painted, wooden rectangle; the sky a limitless expanse of blue; a face a fascinating arrangement of skin, eyes, nose and mouth. A child’s laugh is a musical note; an aeroplane a distant drone; a river a hypnotic trickle of water. Likewise, you can take in the weight of your feet on the ground, the rhythm of your breath, or the gurgle rising up from within your stomach as if you were really sensing all of it for the first time.
Mindfulness can be reached through meditation, through the practice of present-moment awareness, and through sensate focusing. It can also be acquired through the practice of Yoga, Tai Chi, or Qi Gung. The focus can be an image, a mantra, the sound of a gong, your breath, your movement or your senses. Or it can be on Silence: on nothing at all in fact. It doesn’t matter which of these methods you use so long as it works for you and you achieve the goal of empty mind.
Personally I have been helped in my own search by the study of Zen Buddhism, on which I have written elsewhere on this blog. But all religious and spiritual disciplines have their separate paths to Awareness. The last thing any of us should do is lay down the rules for Mindfulness!
The benefits of practicing Mindfulness
The benefits are enormous. The research now out there shows that daily practice of Mindfulness can:
- Reduce chronic pain
- Eliminate anxiety
- Develop resilience if you are stressed
- Treat Depression
- Eliminate Drug Addiction and Alcohol abuse
- Improve sleep
- Reduce Obsessions and OCD
- Work with eating disorders
In a previous article I describe how the practice of Awareness brings happiness and peace of mind.
Some free mindfulness-building tapes for you to use
Moving on now to some tools you can use I have some free gifts for you.
Here is a download for a 3-minute sensate focusing tape:
Here is a download for a 10 minute sensory awareness tape
Here is a download for a 21 minute meditational tape based on sensory awareness
You can also download free mindfulness tapes from the excellent site run by The Mindful Awareness Research Centre at UCLA
Finally, if you are a fan of Binaural Beat tapes – about which I have written on this article – then here is a very good free one you can access on the link below.