Well-being and Mindfulness... What's all the fuss?

So you may have heard of London’s mindfulness craze. You may even know that it’s somewhat linked to meditation and de-stressing your life and you may even link it to your yoga practice or something you really should look into one day.

Here’s the simple version of what mindfulness means to me.  When we worry or are stressed we get anxious about what has already happened (oh my god I can’t believe I did that) or something that hasn’t happened yet (if I take that risk I could lose everything). Mindfulness is creating a habit of living in the present moment and learning that all we have is now. When you focus on your senses and connect to your body you get out of your ‘what if’ head and into what is happening right now, the only place you have any control.

While many people build long meditative practices I simply don’t have the attention span. Rather than try to fit myself into what others do I have found that short guided meditation apps help me connect with my breathing and what I have now. There are many free apps in your app store, I particularly like one simply called Mindfulness where I use their 3 minute guided meditation as a short boost to focus my thinking on the now. Another wonderful one is called Headspace which has 10 minute guided exercises and fabulous animations that explain mindfulness visually. 3-10 minutes is all I can do but the magic is just as great as if I sat there for an hour.

I recently worked with a 23 year old male that simply wouldn’t talk to anybody about his depression and anxiety around a relationship breakup and financial stress. Boys don’t talk about these things.  I suggested he try a mindfulness app as an experiment to see if it helped him focus his attention on what he had any power over now. He said he’d try it and I expected to defend it in my 2nd session with him so he could fully understand the value. We spoke on the phone and he said ‘Petra this mindfulness stuff has completely changed my mindset. The stuff I told you about with that girl doesn’t even matter any more, I want to focus on me and how I can look at the world different’. I smiled widely and let him carry on. He asked questions and explained metaphors that deepened his learning. ‘A thought is just a thought’ he said, ‘like my mind is a clear blue sky and a thought is like a cloud, it can float in and out but just because I have a day with a lot of clouds doesn’t mean they’ll stay there forever, underneath is a clear blue sky and I can do things to bring my attention back to that calm place’.

Mindfulness is now a regular part of this young man's routine. A few weeks later I asked him about his depression as I was wondering what was going on with that. He paused, laughed and then said, ‘you know, I completely forgot about the depression.’

Check out Andy Puddicombe’s TED talk on taking 10 Mindful minutes and how this could completely alter the way you look at the world