The first step to changing anything is to notice or become aware of it. Mindfulness helps us to do this.
Mindfulness is a process of awareness, and an attitude to life. At its simplest level, mindfulness is a practice which helps us pay close attention to what is happening in the present moment, with awareness and curiosity, and without judgement.
In psychotherapy, mindfulness is used to notice and explore thoughts, emotions, sensations, impulses, urges, memories, images and beliefs occurring in our minds and bodies. In the busy world in which we live, with multiple distractions to occupy our minds, many of us may not be conscious of our mental and bodily experiences. Mindfulness teaches us to 'see' what is occurring within us, to gain new insights and information, and to explore the connections we have made in our minds and bodies that may have become 'automatic' over time, and be occurring without our conscious awareness.
In this way mindfulness slows things down and creates a choice point, so that we can start to respond in different, effective and life affirming ways.
Mindfulness is helpful for many reasons. It enables us to calm the nervous system, experience distressing memories and emotions safely, and to explore patterns, behaviours or ideas which may no longer support our growth. Mindfulness teaches us to manage thoughts, feelings, and behaviours more skilfully, and to cultivate wisdom, resilience and compassion.
A regular mindfulness practice can regulate emotions, inoculate against stress, and lead to changes in our brain that support our emotional wellbeing. Perhaps most importantly, mindfulness is a way of tapping into the rich source of information held within our bodies, and can promote deep psychological transformation.
Increasingly, leading experts in the field of physical and psychological health and wellbeing are confirming that mindfulness is a powerful therapeutic and life tool.