When you read or hear the word mindfulness what reaction do you have?
Many people who come and see me state that mindfulness doesn’t work for them, they don’t want to do that ‘mindfulness stuff’, or that they’re sick of being told to breath. Their reaction is quite strong.
Practicing mindfulness underpins most of the work I do in therapy, and how I try and live my life, yet when I hear or read the word ‘mindfulness’ my reaction is not always positive.
I think it is because it has become such a populist word and tends to be tossed around like fairy floss, that the word itself is becoming diluted.
There is a part of my brain that still wants to automatically associate ‘mindfulness’ with a tall, young, skinny female with long hair sitting cross legged on a cushion. I don’t judge people who can do this – part of me would love to be that person, that person who seems to have their act together and exudes calm.
However, my mindfulness is not neat, and I am not that person. The process of practicing non-judgement of self and others, of focusing on my breath, of noticing my thoughts, feelings and actions; of seeing things for how they are, of deliberately focusing on the beauty and wonder around me, of practicing gratitude, and of taking committed action; these processes can be tough and demanding. Particularly when my brain is resistant and wants to hold on to incorrect beliefs, past failures and echoes of bullying. When my stress response is triggered and wants to run and hide, not sit on a cushion….
So why do it?
It tends to bring me peace, increase my feelings of happiness and allow me to respond to situations and people rather than react. It increases my feelings of gratitude and makes me feel calm.
So pay attention to your reaction to the word ‘mindfulness’. There is no right or wrong reaction. And by paying attention to your reaction you are practicing mindfulness (and isn’t that interesting).
* My aim is for these posts is meant to useful, interesting and/or inspiring. They are not designed to be used for therapy.. If you are experiencing stress please contact your GP or mental health professional.
Kim Dunn is a Child Psychologist and Founder of Positive Young Minds.