Mindfulness and Meditation in Central London
Have you ever felt like your life was running on autopilot? Like you are just going through the motions, simply a spectator in your own life?
Most people have experienced similar feelings, the pressures of modern living can make it easy to rush through life without stopping to notice what is happening around you.
Paying more attention to the present - to your own thoughts, feelings, and the world around you - can improve your mental wellbeing and enjoyment of life.
Many people think about wellbeing in terms of what they have: their income, home, car, or even their job - but evidence shows the things we think and do have a far bigger impact on our wellbeing and happiness.
Good mental wellbeing is measured by feeling good about your life and yourself, enabling you to get on with life in the way you desire.
Becoming more aware of the present moment means noticing the sights, smells, sounds and tastes that you experience, as well as the thoughts and feelings that occur from one moment to the next.
This awareness is often referred to as Mindfulness, and the good news is you can take steps to develop it in your own life.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness can be defined as the awareness of what is going on both inside and outside of ourselves, moment by moment.
Mindfulness can be an effective antidote to the "tunnel vision" that is all too common in our daily lives, especially when we find ourselves busy, stressed or tired.
It's not difficult to lose touch with the world around us. It's even easier to lose touch with the way our bodies are feeling and to end up living 'in our heads' - caught in our thoughts we fail to notice how they drive our emotions and behaviour.
This reconnecting with our bodies and the sensations they experience is a fundamental aspect of mindfulness - waking up to the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of the present moment.
Awareness of this kind doesn't start by trying to change or fix anything. It's about allowing ourselves to see the present moment clearly.
When this begins to happen, it can positively change the way we see ourselves and our lives.
How can Mindfulness help? - Benefits of Meditation
"When we become more aware of the present moment, we begin to experience afresh many things in the world around us that we have been taking for granted."
Practicing mindfulness has many worthwhile benefits, and can help you to;
- Enjoy the world around you more
- Understand yourself better
- Notice signs of stress or anxiety and help deal with them
- Reduce stress
- Improve your mood
- Increase your energy
- Control your thoughts
Studies have found that mindfulness courses, where participants are taught mindfulness practices across a series of weeks, can dramatically improve mental wellbeing.
Mindfulness also allows you to become more aware of the stream of thoughts and feelings that we experience, allowing you stand back from your thoughts and start to see their patterns.
Over time, people can train themselves to notice when their thoughts are taking over, and realise that these thoughts are simply 'mental events' that do not have to control them.
Most people have issues they find hard to let go, and mindfulness can help deal with them more productively. You can ask: 'Is trying to solve this by brooding about it helpful, or am I just getting caught up in my thoughts?'
How can you practice Mindfulness? - Exercises and Techniques
Simply reminding yourself to be aware of your thoughts, feelings and the world around you is the first step to mindfulness.
As you go about your daily life you can find new ways of waking up to the world around you; the taste and texture of the food you eat, the wind blowing through your hair as you walk outside.
This may sound small and unexciting, but it has the power to interrupt the 'autopilot' mode we often engage on a daily basis, and to give new perspectives on life.
Similarly, take a moment to reflect on the busy traffic of your mind. Observing your own thoughts, stand back and watch them float past like leaves on a stream. There is no need to try to change the thoughts, or argue with them, or even judge them - just observe.
This is about putting the mind in a different mode, in which we see each thought as simply another mental event and not an objective reality that has to control over us.
As well as practising mindfulness in daily life, it can be helpful to set aside time for a more formal mindfulness practice.
One of the most effective ways is through meditation - where participants sit silently and pay attention to the sensations of breathing or other regions of the body, bringing the attention back whenever the mind wanders.
Guided meditation can be particularly helpful when starting out and can help speed up the learning process for beginners.
My experience with Mindfulness and Meditation
I attended The British Mindfulness institute and completed a course in June 2014 on mindfulness and meditation. I had a bad habit of worrying about future events and feeling guilty about previous events in my life. This led to anxiety, stress and insomnia. All I can say is after attending this course I am a changed individual.
I concentrate and live in the now. On what is going on right now in my life, rather than worrying about next week's events. Before I attended the course I felt I did not have the skills to achieve change, but for me it was almost overnight. The key to it was practice and writing down the positive and putting the negatives to one side. They will look after themselves.
When I go for my evening walk, I take everything in. The smell of the grass, the sight of the tress and nature all around me. I listen, to the simple sound of the water in the river. By simply using my senses I am enjoying that walk and taking everything in. This course gave me the tools to do these things and the results and my general outlook on everyday life is very positive.
Also as part of the course there was also a Meditation session. When we did the meditation on the course I was so relaxed and chilled out. From a personal perspective, after attending this course my mind does not wander off when I use the daily techniques, it stays clearly in the here and now.
I would recommend anyone to try it to see if it brings something new, useful, helpful and life-changing to their lives no matter what their ailments are.
The course was excellent and a really positive experience, I also found it to be calming and very relaxing. I am planning on integrating what I learned from the presentation into my life and work practice on a daily basis.
Mindfulness has had such a positive impact on my life, I couldn't recommend it enough. It has given me brilliant tools for life.
I Would highly recommend mindfulness to anyone thinking of having therapy and would like to be happier and more positive in their daily life.