The Art of Mindfulness

The art of mindfulness


Mindfulness for Stress.

Some time ago I was walking through the countryside with my wife, the spring morning air was fresh, the sun was warm and the birds were singing in the hedge grow as they busied themselves building their nests. I was somewhere else on another planet.

My wife broke into my thoughts saying, “Where are you? You seem to be miles away. You are not here with me.” She was right, I was engrossed thinking about other matters. I wasn’t in the here and now. While it is necessary to focus our minds on solutions to current problems or addressing other important issues and even attempting to develop a creative project, what is necessary for effective living is the ability to be present in the here and now and not get lost in the there and then. Mindfulness trainers remind us that we need to be in this moment, not the past moment nor the next moment but in this moment.

Mindfulness is …

“Paying more attention to the present moment – to your own thoughts and feelings, and to the world around you – can improve mental wellbeing.”


Mindfulness in Daily Life.

I have addressed the problem of stress in my recent news-letters and want to introduce you to the mindfulness solution to stress in the 21st century.

Researchers claim that “The best antidote for stress is mindfulness, existing in the here and now, not in the past or future, but in the present.”  Mindfulness has now entered the mainstream of everyday relaxation techniques as people try to find ways of combating stress and improving their quality of life.

The researchers have developed a framework of four key components to help explain the positive effects of mindfulness practice.  It is suggested that the practice of mindfulness can have benefits for health and performance, including improved immune function, reduced blood pressure and enhanced mental function.

Britta Holtzel of Justus Liebig University and Harvard Medical School points out that what we think of mindfulness is not actually a single set of skills, but rather a multi-faceted mental practice including attention regulation, body awareness, emotional regulation and a sense of self.  Together, these components help us resolve the mental, emotional and physiological effects of stress brought on by modern day living.

Although these components are theoretically distinct, they are closely intertwined.  Improvement in managing our focus of attention (attention regulation), for example may directly facilitate our awareness of our physiological state.  This body awareness may then help us to recognise, interpret and manage the emotions we are feeling.  This is a key issue; our emotions are messengers and the accurate identification of each emotion with its accompanying message is essential for constructive living.


How Mindfulness helps our mental wellbeing

Becoming more aware of the present moment can help us enjoy the world around us more and understand ourselves better.

When we become more aware of the present moment, we begin to experience afresh things that we have taken for granted.

“Mindfulness also allows us to become more aware of the streams of thoughts and feelings that we experience, and to see how we can become entangled in this stream of thoughts in ways that are not helpful.” says Professor Mark Williams.  “This lets us stand back from our thoughts and start to see their patterns.  Gradually, we can train ourselves and notice when our thoughts are taking over and realise that thoughts are simply ‘mental events’ that do not have control over us.’  We can manage them.


How to be more mindful

Here are a few ideas for starters.

1.     Even as we go about our daily lives, we can notice the rich variety of events happening in and around us: the food we eat: the air brushing past the body as we move along, distant sounds and others close by. Professor Williams notes, “All this may sound very small “but it has a huge power to interrupt the ‘autopilot’ mode we often engage day by day, and to give us new perspectives on life.”

2.     Pause at points during the day and remind yourself to take notice of your thoughts, feelings, body sensations and the world around you.

3.     Notice your thoughts.  Some people find it difficult to practice mindfulness.  As soon as they attempt to engage in mindfulness, lots of thoughts and worries crowd in.  It’s useful to remember that mindfulness isn’t about making these thoughts go away, but rather than recognising them as mental events.  “Image standing at a bus station and seeing ‘thought buses’ coming and going without having to get on them and be taken away.  This can be very hard at first, but with gentle persistence it is possible.

4.     Gentle activity. Some people find it easier to manage an over busy mind by practicing gentle yoga or going for a stroll.

5.     Name the thoughts and feelings.  To develop an awareness of thoughts and feelings, some people find it helpful to silently name them: That’s the thought I might fail that exam”. Or, “This is the feeling of anxiety”

Action – For your introductory Mindfulness session at a reduced rate of £250 contact me on