Illustration by Thuy Seecof.
Over a month ago, I watched a video on youtube about a meditation style called mindfulness. I took some real interest in it. I tried to practice it, watched a few videos, found it hard, then gave up. Then, the other day in our very first session, my new therapist asked me if I knew anything about mindfulness; and I’ve been hooked on it once again. I’ve decided that mindfulness and I are meant to be and now I’m trying to become an expert on this truly wonderful concept.
Mindfulness is a meditation technique that helps you to become more focused on the present moment and ultimately more aware of what you’re feeling in that moment. Mindfulness is about paying attention, on purpose, to the moment you’re in and accepting it for what it is. It is about being aware that you are alive in the current moment. That all we have in life is the moment in front of us so we need to pay attention to it, instead of letting it pass. It also tries to get to you examine the emotions you’re feeling and be able to pick apart where they’re coming from.
Rumination is repetitive negative thoughts about the past, present and future. Rumination is strongly linked with some mental illnesses. Anxiety and depression can cause excessive rumination, which can further negative thoughts that those illnesses already cause you, like a vicious cycle. Mindfulness is really helpful in battling rumination because you are accepting the past for what is was, letting the future be what it will be, and focusing on the moment you have.
Before you are able to start analyzing your thoughts and feelings, you first have to be able to ground yourself in the present moment. Grounding is placing yourself, physically, in the present moment. Place your hand on your stomach and feel your breath. Pay attention to what is supporting you. How does it feel? Try and use all your senses to help make yourself aware of the present moment. What can you see, smell, etc? Don’t think about how you got to this moment or where you’ll be going afterward, just let yourself be and exist.
The best thing to do is spend 5 or 10 minutes doing this every day because it brings you back into the moment and can bring you back into your life. I like to do it sitting on the bus, in bed or in class. Once you feel confident with physically bringing yourself into the moment, it is then best to try to mentally bring yourself into it. Now, I’m not great at doing this myself yet, and if you don’t get it straight away don’t be discouraged because it will take awhile to hone these skills. That said, I think it could be really valuable if you (and I) focus and develop them over time. Anyway, the whole idea is that you can pay proper attention to whatever you’re feeling and just let it be. The thoughts and feelings aren’t as large and scary anymore when you’re staring them in the face and looking at them for what they are.
If you still need more convincing, Psychology Today released their ‘Top 10 Reasons Why Mindfulness is cool.’ Here are some more grounding techniques to get people started and here is a TED talk from a mindfulness expert speaking more about it.
Just give it a go. I know you can do it.