"We can't stop the waves,
but we can learn to surf"
"Mindfulness is primarily about learning how to life in the present moment, with full connection and appreciation of all that the present moment has to offer"
Mindfulness is a set of techniques and practices that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety in our lives, and which can help us to live a happier, calmer and more productive life.
Lydia explains: Mindfulness is primarily about learning how to life in the present moment, with full connection and appreciation of all that the present moment has to offer.
This can be extremely liberating, because most of us tend to live our lives in our heads - busy worrying, working things out, and getting stressed. Not wanting to be in this moment and always projecting that the next moment, week, month or year will be better!
We also tend to make our happiness conditional upon obtaining something that we don't currently have - for example, by thinking thoughts like: "I'll be happy...when I retire, or when I find the right partner, or when I get that new car, that new house, or the new job, etc..."
This way of thinking, when its not noticed and modified, can lead to severe anxiety and depression, or, at best, a general feeling of greyness and dissatisfaction with our lives. We often feel that life is whizzing by in a rush of things to do, and things we wish we're different. We are not really happy, fulfilled or satisfied.
We often spend our lives worrying about the past, or projecting into the future, with little awareness of the richness and peace that is contained in the here and now. Mindfulness, when practised regularly, can deeply enhance our experience of life. We can learn to tune more fully into our sensory experience, and detach more often from the thoughts and "stories" that very often lead to stress, anxiety and burn out.
About the Theory
The evolved brain is very tricky. It is not designed for happiness and contentment - it's default setting is threat and drive. This is because we are conditioned by evolution to be on the look out for external threats, and getting what we need to survive.
In our modern day age, the main threats seem to be within our own minds!
We can easily dwell and ruminate on old painful memories, and we can criticise ourselves relentlessly for doing things 'wrongly'...we can spend hours, days, months or years playing unresolved stories in our heads. This pattern only serves to complicate matters further, and deprives us of our peace of mind.
We also tend to worry about future scenarios. Anxiety tends to build about things that may not turn out the way we would want them to. Thoughts such as "what if" or "I might not cope" or "what would other people think" only add to our unease.
These habitual thoughts activate our threat system, and make us feel stressed. We then suffer the consequences in both body and mind.
In an attempt to feel better, we analyse, judge, deflect, defend and hide from these stress responses, which only results in us feeling worse...and often disconnecting from the people and things that are most important to us.
The results can be mild or severe, but there is usually, at least, a feeling of some kind of dissatisfaction with the way things are in our lives.
Mindfulness practises and concepts can help us to recognise these patterns of thought and behaviour. We are then able to notice, accept and clarify the actual situation that needs attention, rather than playing out habitual, reactive patterns (which often amount to a miss-interpretation of current events).
Mindfulness can help us to acknowledge these unhelpful thinking styles, and take a step back in order to recognise them as just habits of thought. We can then move forward in a more peaceful and productive way, with more presence, self acceptance and gratitude for our new found awareness, and connection with life and with others.
This is extremely rewarding, and it helps us to take more control over our thoughts and actions. We therefore become kinder to ourselves and others, and we have more compassion for the suffering of others who are still locked into the pattern of habitual thinking and reacting.