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10 Things Everyone Should Know About Mindfulness

Dr Elizabeth Sparkes 

Mindfulness teacher, Health Psychologist, Lecturer, Mother (and course director for the MSc Health Psych at Coventry)

Reblogged with Liz’s permission from Huffington Post

  1. It’s available to everyone.
    Plain and simple, anyone can develop a mindful life. Who is in the shower with you? Just think about it, how much shower time do you spend focusing on the refreshing feel of the water and the scent of the soap? Or are you thinking about your boss, neighbour, mother in-law?
  2. It’s not about getting rid of difficult thoughts and feelings.
    People come to sessions hoping to be free from suffering, and yes mindfulness will eliminate suffering to a degree, but it’s not about changing our thoughts or suppressing our feelings.
  3. It’s about cultivating an ability to ‘be’ with difficult thoughts and feelings.
    What does a small child do if you ignore them when they cry? They just get louder and likewise regarding difficult emotions, they just become stronger. Mindfulness enables us to allow difficult thoughts and feelings to pass through, to not become stuck and repetitive.
  4. It’s all about the practice.
    You don’t develop muscles overnight, it takes work. Mindfulness and meditation abilities improve quickly with regular practice, and that only needs to be 10 minutes a day to begin with.
  5. It’s about getting in touch with sensations in the body.
    During meditation, being curious about ‘unsound’ tensions and pains often helps them to subside. Giving some attention to something that wants to be felt can make all the difference.
  6. It’s not about analysing our thoughts.
    Every day we get tied up in knots trying to understand and get to the bottom of our experiences and feelings. Just sitting with your breath, focusing on sensations in the body and paying attention to an emotion can do so much more for our mental and physical health than hours of analysis.
  7. It’s excellent in terms of increasing awareness.
    With gentle regular practice an awareness develops. An awareness and ‘wisdom’ if you like, that gives us insight, so that we react less, miss less opportunities and understand a whole lot more.
  8. It’s not about clearing the mind during meditation.
    Honestly it isn’t! What happens if you try not to think about anything? A whole rampage of thoughts flood in. It’s like training a puppy, each time the puppy wanders off you gently bring him back. So with mindfulness, when the mind wanders kindly invite it back to the breath, to the moment.
  9. It’s all about calming the chattering mind.
    Bringing more focus to the present moment and practicing mindfulness meditation – following the breath, just generates a calmer mind. You are retraining your mind to a natural state, from chaos to calm.
  10. It’s simple and effective if taught with compassion.
    Mindfulness isn’t complicated and one of the most important elements when being taught mindfulness is compassion. We can do anything mindfully but with compassion we do it better.

Follow Dr Elizabeth Sparkes on Twitter: www.twitter.com/lizzeduarte

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