When I was first told about mindfulness I thought it was kind of wanky. I also have the attention span of a small child so I spent most of the time trying to focus and getting frustrated that I was thinking about everything but what I *should* have been. That was my first mistake.I don’t know if my aversion to mindfulness was a result of it being explained poorly, my aversion to anything that relied on attempting to wrangle my mind or a mixture of both, but I did know that I was hesitant to give it more than a half arsed go. I felt uncomfortable closing my eyes in a session, and my need to doing something perfect meant that I constantly felt that I was failing. I thought that the quiet, breath orientated meditation was the only way to practice mindfulness. That was my second mistake.
A few years ago I vented my frustrations about mindfulness on Facebook. I hated doing it and because of my unwillingness to fully commit, I wasn’t seeing any benefits. I couldn’t see the real world applications, or the ways I could use it outside my house. I couldn’t really close my eyes and take deep breaths while in public. Well I could but my fear of looking stupid would far outweigh any benefits. Venting these frustrations was the best thing I could have done.
One of my friends pointed out that something I was already doing (listening to music and tapping my fingers to the beat of the song) was actually a type of mindfulness. They pointed out that the action of focusing on the beat was allowing me to be mindful of my senses and not the anxiety I was feeling. I was able to redirect my thoughts to the music rather than allowing negative thought processes to escalate.
Music isn’t the only way in which mindfulness can be practiced of course. Adult colouring has recently become an extremely popular way of focusing your mind. People all over the world are embracing their inner child and realising the calming effect that the simple act of colouring can have. You don’t need anything special to do it and it’s something that you can even do with your kids.
In reality, any task can be done mindfully. Yes, even housework. As long as you are using it to help focus your thoughts and stop negative thoughts from escalating. Of course you do have to ensure that you are eventually working through these thoughts using other methods or you run the risk of turning mindfulness into a avoidance tactic.
Mindfulness is an important tool to have in your mental health toolbox and is something that can help to quickly diffuse stressful situations. If you would like to find out more about practicing mindfulness, contact your GP or speak to a mental health professional.