Did you know that we spend around 47% of our time lost in thought? That means almost half of our waking life isn't actually being in the present moment - we are preoccupied about what has happened or what might happen in the future. This bothered me, we're only here for a relatively short time - I don't want to spend so much of my time thinking, ruminating and or worrying about what has or what might happen. Obviously it would be impossible to never think about the past or future and I'm not saying that this would be helpful either. Instead let's try and skew the headspace back in favour of the now- it would be wonderful to spend more time in the present moment.
How do we do this?
Mindfulness and meditation are getting a lot of hype recently and for good reason. There is a plethora of research demonstrating the positive effects of mindfulness. It actually changes your brain by strengthening neural connections between the primitive areas of the brain and the most reasoned areas so it helps with feelings of anxiety, stress and depression. Some recent studies have shown that it is at least as effective as antidepressants (for mild depression) and the UK's National Institute for Health and Care Excellence is now recommending it as the preferred treatment for a range of mental health disorders.
We are encouraged to regularly work out and rest our bodies but what about our minds?
You cannot stop the mind from thinking-the idea of 'clearing your mind' seems ridiculous! It's like saying, don't think of a pink elephant -that is then all you can do!
In 'clear your mind' moments, what we tend to do is go over what we've got to do or go over something that has happened. So the purpose of mindfulness is to try and see your thoughts in a more transient way - perhaps like cars moving on a road, clouds moving in the sky or like they are in a moving river (you get the picture, whatever works for you). The aim is to detach yourself from them and see more objectively and without judgement. The main purpose is to come away from focusing on your thoughts and instead focus your attention on your breath, your body and your senses. It's a remarkable feeling when you allow yourself to slow down and focus on your breath. Mindfulness allows you to really focus on how you feel. In times of stress my shoulders make their way up around my ears(!) so part of mindfulness for me is about checking in with my body.
Mindfulness will allow your mind to switch attention away from thinking and take stock of what is going on in the body. Ultimately, it makes the mind better at processing information and emotion.
Is mindfulness for me?
For some people, the thought of sitting quietly and concentrating on your breath sounds almost impossible but I would urge you to try.
It takes 21-28 days to form a new habit so take up this challenge. It is also important to note that there is no such thing as being good or bad at mindfulness - just be kind to yourself and keep enjoying the experience of taking some time out in the day, it could be as little as 2 minutes!
You could also try some mindful movement - when you walk, just pay attention to what you're seeing/doing, rather than getting completely lost in thoughts.
If you are never stressed, never worried about the past or future and always live in the present moment then you've nailed it.For the majority of us, quietening the mind is one of the best things we could ever do.
If you haven't already, perhaps you could download an app on your phone that will take you through some guided mediation. It's a good place to start.
~ Calm ~ Stop, Breathe and Think (personal favourite) ~ Headspace
~ There are also meditation podcasts - ~ Hay House Meditations are a favourite of mine.
~ Look after your mind, it is the best computer you will ever own.
Miss Hypno Health, a psychology teacher with over a decade worth of experience in under standing mental health and improving well-being. She is passionate about empowering people to learn more about their remarkable bodies and minds and using this knowledge to help heal themselves and experience more joy. In her own words "I am now certain that there is no magic wand, no one treatment or ritual that will lead to inner peace; it stems from a culmination of techniques and everyday choices".
Follow MissHypnoHealth on Instagram