“Mindfulness is a way of befriending ourselves and our experience.” – Jon Kabat
Mindfulness practices have gained so much interest and public attention in Psychology circles over the past number of years, and with good reason. Mindfulness shows an increase in psychological health and has been linked with a lessening of mental health symptoms such as depression, sleeplessness, and rumination.
Essentially, it is the practice of focussing your attention on the present moment, and then, accepting that moment just as it is, with no judgment or thought of how it may have been different.
And yet, it sounds simpler than it is! Practicing mindfulness requires mental acuity, and as one begins on the mindfulness journey, it needs to be regularly practiced to become a developed skill.
This can be done using a number of practices, which include:
- Meditation or prayer
- Deep breathing exercises
- Yoga or Pilates
- Sensory awareness exercises
One of the ways in which mindfulness can be practiced, is by experiencing physical touch, such as massage. One of the key benefits of massage is that it engages more than one sense, in most cases smell and touch. By using relaxing aromatherapy, you engage the brain and the smell sense, which can already produce a powerful centring experiencing. When you are massaged, the touch on specific parts of your body, can help you to focus on that specific area, and that can also support you in developing mindfulness and awareness. The good news is, that even if you are giving yourself a massage (i.e. foot or hand massage), you can still develop the ability for mindfulness by paying close attention to your experience and your senses!
Not all aspects of life are pleasurable, and mindfulness is a powerful way of engaging in the painful, as well as the pleasurable aspects of life, to help you achieve a more integrated and balanced experience of life as a whole. This in turns develops your resilience and helps you to become more able to endure inevitable life challenges.
The words of Amit Ray sum up the power of mindfulness beautifully: “If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath.”
(If you are interested in developing your mindfulness skills, be sure to search for a therapist or practitioner in your area that can assist you in developing mindfulness as a mental health tool.)