I replied to a tweet recently and it made me think of the debate about mindfulness.
Mindfulness has been the recent thing that is supposed to help you enjoy the present moment; promoting calmness and happiness. It’s a concept that I like especially in this current culture of high expectations, social media, none stop lifestyle. Stopping to live in the moment can be an invaluable skill to anyone at anytime in their life. In therapy it’s another added tool. Clients often arrive in a whirlwind of their week, sharing facts and presumed emotions. Slowing down and asking them how they feel, what their body is like, right now, can give so much information…
Try it now
* Sit comfortable in a chair, feel your feet firmly on the ground, how the chair feels against your body.
* Listen to the sounds around you, you don’t need do anything about them, just be aware. Listen to your breathing, again don’t change it, just be aware and comfortable.
* Now scan your body head to toe and think about how you feel: aches, pains, temperature? Are you holding tension anywhere, any dread, sadness or anxiety?
Once I did this and realised I’d been so focused on writing up my reports I’d accidentally cut my foot as it had been pressed into the edge of my desk. Often we are dismissive of how we feel, we don’t have the time or energy to process it. When we take time we can listen to our body and deal with the emotions, because often it is something easily resolved and if not, it gives us the reminder to look after ourselves and have that well needed tea break.
When mindfulness becomes something more than a tool, when it becomes a standard or something else to fail at, when it becomes something you define your life by, it becomes unhealthy and unhelpful.
As with all tools, theories and models, mindfulness definitely has its place but take what you need from it and use it wisely.