The Mindfulness Movement: Can it Help You?
Thursday 19th November 2015 | Teresa
In a world so dominated by stress, it seems we could all use a bit more time in our day. But, what if it isn’t more time that we need? Maybe we just need to slow down our minds. Advocates of mindfulness suggest that by slowing down our minds we can slow down our days, and experience a healthier body and mind, which may actually make us more productive when under stress.
Even more important, when contrasted against medicines used for either mental illness or pain, mindfulness has proved just as effective, if not more effective, in treating these ailments. This past year, a study published in the Lancet Medical Journal concluded that practicing mindfulness produced the same positive effects as anti-depressants. This is a medicinal breakthrough, because it shows that our minds may have all the tools necessary to remedy itself. Recently, another study done by Wake Forest Baptist Medical Centre, it was proved that mindfulness was more effective than morphine in treating pain and discomfort. Than morphine… just let that sink in. Meditation can be more effective than a powerful opiate.
The great thing is, you don’t have to be a Buddhist monk, or someone who suffers from a physical or mental ailment to practice mindfulness. It’s achievable in everyday life and does not have to entail hours of sitting in the lotus position on a cushion. It can actually be done while standing in line for a coffee, or while on the Tube, which may be a better option than silently suffering in the heat of the Underground whilst trying not to make eye contact with everyone around you. It’s literally as easy as standing and really feeling yourself standing. Feeling the Earth beneath your feet. The sensation of clothing on your skin. Any tension in your body. Really feeling the moment, but with a clear mind. Letting go of the hypercritical, over-analyzing mind that lets stress seep in.
Sounds easy right? It’s actually not as easy as you think. Give it a go, and you may notice that it’s actually quite hard to quiet the mind, but the more you include this in your daily routine, the easier it gets. Also, the easier it gets to respond (or not respond) to future stressors.
As Jon Kabat-Zinn, one of the pioneers of the movement writes ‘The best way to capture moments is to pay attention. This is how we cultivate mindfulness. Mindfulness means being awake. It means knowing what you are doing.’
Realistically, you don’t have to be into meditation, spiritual enlightenment, religion, etc. to practice mindfulness. Yes, it’s technically a form of meditation but it’s literally just a way of connecting with your reality and the people around you. It’ll also help you slow down your day, and examine daily stressors with a more relaxed rational mind. It can benefit literally anyone willing to try it. So, next time you’re on the Tube swearing to yourself about how much you hate the hell hole, take a mental step back and try to just enjoy the ride.
For guided mindfulness on the go, I highly recommend HeadSpace.