Strathclyde Telegraph

Mindfulness

By Anna Biern

 

Do you sometimes feel like the world around you is spinning faster than normal and all you want to do is to just slow down, take a deep breath and simply be still for a moment? If yes, then I know just what you are looking for, one word: Mindfulness.

Mindfulness is a practice of making a conscious decision to focus your attention on the present moment and to accept it, with no judgment. People are used to evaluating every aspect of their life and putting it on a scale from: ‘this feels awesome’ to ‘this is the worst feeling ever’. Based on that, they determine their level of happiness, at the same time forgetting about one truth: We are not our feelings.

We cannot choose what happens around us as we do not hold the power over the world. What we can control, is our reaction to it. This is where the mindfulness comes into play.  How many times have you been stressing over your exam results after you have already sat down to it? Nothing could be changed at that point but you still worried, right? How many times have you been beating yourself up for missing your ex, who broke your heart, and did not deserve your pain at all? Would it change anything if, instead of letting your thoughts overwhelm you and dictate your mood, you just accepted them understanding that they shall pass? Our feelings do not define us – they come and go as they please, but it is up to us to decide, whether we want to focus on them.

Moreover, by putting so much thought into our past and the circumstances we cannot change, we lose a chance to live in the present. This is what mindfulness is all about. People often get so entangled in their worries about the past and hopes for the future that they actually miss on living in the present.

Eckhart Tolle, a German-born author living in Canada, said: “Most humans are never fully present in the now, because unconsciously they believe that the next moment must be more important than this one. But then you miss your whole life, which is never not now.” And now is all we really have. Better yet, the scientists have already discovered that mindfulness improves your life and is a key to happiness.

Studies show that it can do many things: help relieve stress, treat heart disease, improve your sleep – even reduce chronic pain (including headaches). It can also bring relief in the treatment of depression, substance abuse, eating disorders, anxiety disorders and obsessive-compulsive disorder.  Many experts believe that mindfulness works by encouraging people to accept their experiences – including the painful ones – instead of reacting to them with reluctance and evasion.

So, how exactly does it work?

There is a simple exercise with a raisin to experience the state of living in the present, as devised by Dixit J. of Back to the Present: How to Live in the Moment. “Take raisin but don’t just pop it in your mouth. Instead, imagine you’ve never seen a raisin before.

Look it over carefully. Consider its shape, weight, colour, and texture. Rub the raisin gently across your lips, noticing how it feels. Now put the raisin in your mouth and roll it around slowly with your tongue. Notice how it feels in your mouth. Take a small bite, noting the flavour. Next, chew the raisin slowly, focusing on its taste and texture. Then swallow, and follow its path down your throat as far as you can.”

This exercise transfers to other aspects in life, where all we have to do is to observe it from a perspective. Not to criticize it or change it, but to simply accept it.

Whether you feel sad, angry, hurt or happy – accept it. Take a deep breath and focus on everything around you – the colour of your carpet, rustle of leaves behind your windows and the warmth of the sun touching your skin. It is life. It goes on just as it always does, regardless of your feelings.

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