Mindfulness is a way of dealing with everyday challenges presented by the human mind.
Mindfulness involves taking a pause from the incessant activity of the mind. Often when people believe they are taking time out, the mind is nevertheless racing to the future or ruminating on the past. Too frequently, we ride over and ignore much of human experience, rehashing the past in our minds and/or worrying about the future. Mindfulness based therapy is the name given to an awareness that emerges when we focus attention on particular aspects of our experience in the present moment. It requires re-learning and practice.
Many people go through life as if it is a race against time. If you go through your day and cannot remember by the end of it what you ate, what it tasted like, how you felt during the day etc. you are not alone. The vast majority of people experience life in this way. Living life on auto pilot can result in stress, anxiety, fear, feeling overwhelmed, isolated etc. In using Mindfulness, incorporating this practice into daily life, we begin to uncover the additional reactivity which can lead to distress and suffering. Reflecting on insights and self-awareness gained through the practice of Mindfulness leads to many benefits for our mental and emotional well-being.
‘You cannot control the waves however, you can learn to surf’. Jon Kabit-Zinn
Research uncovered that mindfulness practice improves the immune system and increases brain function in positive ways. Mindfulness leads to altering activation symmetries in the prefrontal cortex. The change in the prefrontal cortex is a change associated with an increase in positive feelings, emotions, physiological sensations and a faster recovery time from exposure to negative experiences.
Extensive scientific research has revealed the effectiveness of mindfulness in the treatment of stress, anxiety, low mood, disordered eating, overeating, pain, among numerous other conditions. Over 250 medical centers worldwide provide mindfulness-based therapies. Mindfulness based therapy has been applied to a variety of physical and psychological conditions. In addition, mindfulness is employed in a variety of contexts; including medical training, in a range of corporate settings, by the army, to name but a few. It has a vast array of extremely successful applications.
Developing your inner resources for dealing with life’s challenges.
Mindfulness has been shown to lead to the following:
- A calmer mind
- Quietening the chatter of a racing mind
- Increased concentration and focus
- Enhanced decision making abilities
- Gaining clarity; a clearer perspective
- Managing and reducing stress levels
- Increasing confidence and self-esteem
- Enhanced cognitive functioning
- Emotional Intelligence
Extensive scientific research has revealed the effectiveness of mindfulness in leading to improvements in relation to the following:
- The immune system
- Energy levels
- Managing pain
In research, Mindfulness found to lead to increases in positive feelings and emotions.
Scientific research has revealed the effectiveness of mindfulness in the treatment of:
- Low self-esteem
- Low mood
Mindfulness has been found to aid faster recovery time from exposure to negative or unpleasant experiences
How Mindfulness Can Improve Your Compassion - by Helen Foxton
Mindfulness presents a completely unique way of dealing with the everyday challenges posed by the human condition. When we choose to practice mindfulness, we are choosing to think about how every experience makes us feel, appreciate and take in the world around us, and choose to embrace the calm rather than the chaos. Choosing to practice mindfulness could be very beneficial if you are feeling lost, as it may well improve not only how you look at the world, but also how you look at yourself.
One of the key aspects of individual character that is built upon and improved by practicing mindfulness is the ability to show compassion, both for those around you and for yourself. Self-compassion is an aspect of mindfulness that helps you to acknowledge any struggles you are facing in a positive way and deal with them with kindness rather than by constantly criticising yourself and your efforts. Many people who are unable to demonstrate self-compassion also experience low self-esteem, which can make it very difficult to receive an accurate perception of your true position in the world and the many wonderful things you have and can achieve. This is why mindfulness is such a useful tool in overcoming both of these challenges.
Overcome Low Self-Esteem With Mindfulness
There are many reasons why you might have low self-esteem and would benefit from learning to practice self-compassion: bad romantic relationships, working in a stressful environment where you feel your contributions are under-appreciated, experiencing poor health or suffering from an addiction of some kind, and having poor inter-personal relationships with family and friends can all contribute to low self-esteem and leave an individual feeling unable to measure up to both the standards they set themselves, and the perceived standards set by others. Practice mindfulness can improve these self-esteem problems because it can help you to realise that the problem isn’t actually you, but how you relate to yourself. Kristin Neff, a specialist self-compassion researcher, believes that individuals who are highly self-critical not only have lower levels of confidence and self-esteem, they are also more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety and other mental health problems. If you are aware that you regularly experience feelings of both low self-esteem and low self-compassion then perhaps it is time to try practicing mindfulness and see how this helps your whole mind frame to change.
Mindfulness encourages us to be kind to ourselves and in turn to accept and embrace ourselves for who we are, rather than focusing on who we wish we could be. Being gentle on yourself doesn't mean becoming unambitious: it is just a more all-encompassing approach to achieving success. When you are hard on yourself, you are depleting your emotional resources, and leaving yourself vulnerable rather than making yourself stronger, which is actually counter-productive to achieving your goals.
Tips For Developing Self Compassion
There are many different ways that you can develop self-compassion, and learn to practice mindfulness in a practical way and in your everyday life. Firstly it’s important to acknowledge that everyone makes mistakes: you are not a bad person because you make them too! When you do make an error acknowledge it, apologise it necessary, and then just let it go: relieving negative past experiences won’t change the past of improve anything, it will only lower your self-esteem further and stop you from enjoying more fulfilling life experiences.
Life is a gift, and every experience that you have should be enjoyed and embraced. We are all guilty of rushing through life looking for the next thing we think we need to achieve or we think will make us happy but in reality, exactly where you are is exactly where you need to be. Embrace the life you have, enjoy the beauty of your unique experience, and don’t rush through it.
Finally, just cut yourself some slack! Why do we internalise negative thoughts and speak to ourselves so badly when we would never consider speaking this way to other people around us, regardless of whether they were friends or strangers? Imagine that you are your own best friend and speak to yourself as you would to that person: you’ll find that you are immediately more understanding and compassionate.
an article by Helen Foxton