I talk a lot about the practice of Mindfulness in my therapy room. I was lucky enough to stumble across the practice over 15 years ago and know it has a big contribution to my (relatively very good) mental health. But many who want to manage the stress and anxiety of a busy life (on top of the distress from other sources that may bring them to therapy in the first place), often resist the idea of taking up yet another thing that is supposed to be of help – ie, on top of exercising more, eating better, drinking less, going to bed earlier, making it to therapy each week….
Mindfulness has been packaged up in recent years into prescribed practices – such as the standard 8-week course that has a set protocol. The Mental Health Foundation followed NICE guidance by promoting these courses a while back now. The prescribed way of mindfulness practice is partly to do with a need for a protocol that had to be devised for research purposes – there is lots and lots proving the merits of mindfulness in a variety of contexts: recurrent depression, pain management, stress management, immune functioning, compulsive eating included.
But doing it the 8-week way isn’t the only way to be nourished by mindfulness, and grabbing any moment in the day to take stock of ‘where you are’ – in your body and mind – can work well toward dialling down our stress responses and ultimately teaching us to have a more measured response to the flotsam and jetsam of our emotional world and mind. Remembering to me mindful is one of the biggest obstacles though – we are far more likely to remember to use it if we are really well practiced in it. We all have things we do naturally through frequent practice, without thinking about it (worryingly, the first thing that leaps to my mind is driving a car….but walking, knitting, jumping etc are probably more responsible examples).
In brief, this is a plea not to be put off. The links so far are great resources to get started, along with Headspace with its wonderful graphics and app.