An introduction to living a more fully present and aware life
There is a seemingly endless stream of information about the power of the mind – describing different types of thinking – the conscious, the subconscious, the unconscious minds, automatic or habitual thinking. Here, we take a look at how the practice of mindfulness increases our awareness of ourselves, and how we respond to our inner and outer lives, our thoughts, emotions and events.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness has its origins in ancient meditative practices, where it’s believed that individuals should establish mindfulness in their day-to-day lives, maintaining a calm awareness of their bodily functions, feelings, thoughts, perceptions and consciousness itself.
Today, in Western society, mindfulness is used in psychology to help relieve people from mental and physical conditions, including depression, anxiety disorders and addiction. It’s not a religion or a cult, has no theological assumptions and can be practised by anyone. Mindfulness has gained a more mainstream popularity in recent years, as people increasingly look for ways to find inner calm in an ever hectic and busy world.
How can mindfulness help?
Practising mindfulness enables us to make wise choices. When our minds are caught up in stressful thought patterns, it’s hard to see through the mental clutter. We get confused and become reactive, not reflective. Mindfulness is the ability to live in the present moment with, for instance, less distraction from unhelpful habits.
It’s easy to think when you’re awake you’re simply conscious all the time, fully aware of what’s going on around you and in you. Take a moment to turn your attention to your left foot. What do you sense – the temperature, the floor, your shoes? Before we asked you to focus on your foot were you aware of these things? When learning to drive, you need to give all your attention to it. Then, as you become a skilled driver, it’s possible to drive down a familiar road and be so lost in thought that you miss your usual turning.
Have you ever been at home on the sofa having a couple of biscuits from a packet and then been surprised to find the packet empty? We actually become very skilled at blocking out awareness from many such repetitive events, such habits. If we weren’t, we’d have information overload. Actually, we function quite a lot of the time through automatic or habitual thinking, not present in the moment. Automatic thinking contributes to mindless eating as in the biscuit example above. You ate the biscuits, but you missed it, you weren’t aware of what you were doing. It’s a great shame to consume calories and not have the pleasure of doing so. It’s an even greater shame to not be present when much of your life is going on.
How LighterLife can help!
In groups with your personal Mentor you will have the opportunity to explore more of this habitual thinking that can sometimes shout so loudly ‘Eat me, Eat me’ as another diet bites the dust.
For actress and presenter Denise Welch, it was the CBT work and mindfulness that made the difference:
“The LighterLife group work changed everything for me. Everything. I learned to pause before eating and ask myself if I was really hungry or whether I was tired, stressed, in need of comfort. In other words, I got in touch with my reasons for eating.
“There were times when I considered lapsing. But CBT teaches you to recognise the crooked thinking behind such moments.
As John Lennon wrote, ‘Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.’ Make life happen for you, so you can enjoy it to the full.
To find your Mentor click here to explore more about fitting in mindfulness in your life.