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What Is Mindfulness?

Nicola Forshaw is the owner of Mindfit, a health &wellbeing practice based in Liverpool city centre. Nicola is a Clinical Hypnotherapist, a member of the British Institute of Hypnotherapy and an accredited Mindfulness trainer.
Nicola Forshaw is the owner of Mindfit, a health &wellbeing practice based in Liverpool city centre. Nicola is a Clinical Hypnotherapist, a member of the British Institute of Hypnotherapy and an accredited Mindfulness trainer. Nicola has taught Mindfulness to individuals, schools and companies across Liverpool and is passionate about improving wellbeing.

ONE in 4 of us suffer with stress, depression and anxiety, and by 2030 depression will be the world’s number one health problem.

This may be the reason why there has been a sudden explosion in the practice of Mindfulness.

People are looking for simple, practical ways to cope with the pressures of modern life and Mindfulness is the bridge to emotional intelligence, resilience, happiness and calm. The beauty about it is you can practice it anywhere, walking to work, on a bus, eating your lunch, with your children – it’s not all about sitting cross legged on the floor.

Mindfulness is based on centuries-old Buddhist meditation practices and breathing exercises. It was developed in the late 1970s by US medical professor Jon Kabat-Zinn to help people cope with stress and depression. With the practice now scientifically proven to improve mental wellbeing it is now recommended by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE).

Mindfulness means to deliberately pay attention to your thoughts, feelings, and body sensations in the present moment, non-judgementally. By creating space and awareness of our moment to moment experience, we can begin to respond skilfully to situations we find ourselves in rather than reacting in automatic or habitual ways that may not serve us well.

By doing this, we can learn not to let experiences overwhelm us and we can remain steady through life’s ups and downs. Awareness of this kind also helps us notice signs of stress or anxiety earlier and helps us deal with them better.

Studies from the Oxford Mindfulness Centre have found that Mindfulness programmes, where participants are taught across a series of weeks, can bring about reductions in stress, depression and improvements in mood and general wellbeing.

Professor Mark Williams, University of Oxford, one of the leading pioneers on this research, says: “It’s a preventative treatment – that’s what makes it different. People usually seek treatment when they’re depressed or anxious, we wanted to teach people skills to cope and stay well that they can use before depression threatens.”

Anyone can practice Mindfulness, whether you ae feeling stressed at home or work, dealing with personal issues, or just simply want to learn how to live in the present moment and enjoy life to the full. Mindfulness can be both life enhancing and life changing for those who practise.

How can we practice Mindfulness in our day to day life?

You have heard of the staying “wake up and smell the coffee” right? Well that’s being mindful.

We can start simply by using all of our senses to bring awareness to our everyday experiences, like noticing the flavours of the food you are eating, noticing nature or buildings around you as you walk, feeling your feet on the ground, noticing the noise of the people or the traffic as they pass you by. All this may sound very small, but it has huge power to interrupt the ‘autopilot’ mode we often get stuck, dwelling about the past or worrying about the future, it gives us new perspectives on life, it also feel great to gives the mind a rest!

You can practise this anytime, anywhere, but it can be especially helpful to take a mindful approach if you realise that your mind is very busy or you notice a pattern of negative, repetitive or unhelpful thoughts.

For a more formal practice you can start with just 3 minutes of meditation per day.

* Simply close your eyes,

* pay close attention to your breath,

* if thoughts come in, as they will do, the practice is to simply notice them and bring your attention back to your breathing.

As little as 3-10 minutes of meditation per day can have a powerful positive impact on your mental and physical wellbeing:

Some of the benefits:

* Less stress/anxiety/depression

* Improved mood

* Improved clarity/attention

* Improved sleep

* Improved blood pressure

* Improved general wellbeing

* Improved relationships with self and others

Time for a happy hit:

Happiness is a state of mind and we can tap into it anytime we want, by making a conscious effort to change our thoughts and feelings. We need to actively work with our minds, neuroscientists refer to it has ‘hardwiring happiness’… try this simple exercise:

  1. Close your eyes
  2. Think about something that would make you feel really happy
  3. Get a feel or a sense of doing this happy thing now
  4. Notice how this makes you feel and where you feel in the body
  5. Absorb this feeling fully
  6. Open your eyes & notice how you feel now

Quick tip for instant calm… 4,6,8

When something difficult or uncomfortable happens, or you just feel you need to calm down, you can break the cycle of stress or anxiety mounting by using the breath as an anchor to calm the mind and settle the body….

Try this:

* Breathing in slowly for the count of 4

* Holding the breath for the count of 6

* Breath out slowly for the count of 8

Repeat if necessary! Again notice how you feel!

Let us know how you are getting on!

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