As we move through unprecedented and unpredictable times, many of us find it comforting to use mindfulness to soften the impact of the COVID-19. Paula from our Service User and Supporters Council (SUAS) shares how mindfulness began as an optional extra in her mental health journey but is now an essential in the pursuit of peace of mind.
Be in the moment
Be in the moment
Mindfulness is an exercise that can be undertaken by anyone, not necessarily a person with a mental health difficulty or psychiatric illness. It involves sitting in a quiet place, without external noise. The person practicing mindfulness starts off sitting for a small amount of time, and gradually builds this into a daily exercise of varying lengths up to perhaps a half hour, time allowing. It can be done in the company of others or alone.
The benefits of mindfulness begin in sitting and listening to the noise - or lack of it - around you. For me, the idea is to listen so that you are ‘in the moment’. Audible or barely audible sounds are enough to get you into the right frame of mind. When you are ‘listening’, your mind is in a good place. It is restorative and healing to simply be in the moment.
Calm your mind
Calm your mind
All kinds of benefits may come your way. What starts as a tentative practice may soon be an important component in your arsenal of restoring peace of mind.
Just as you have your breakfast at the start of each day, I would encourage you to have your mindfulness practice too. Don’t make an excuse not to do it. The benefits are huge. Just imagine yourself a year from now, with more peace of mind and an ability to engage more fruitfully with your gifts and talents.
Mindfulness puts you in the driving seat. It can even help to break down a sense of worry as your mind gets used to feeling more calmed, and those times of feeling calmer, in turn, become more frequent.
I have been practising mindfulness for a decade, using it all the more now, and have found that my mind works in a different way because of persistent and determined practice.
My concentration is much better. My tendency to worry has receded. My periods of happiness and peace are prolonged. I can let go of thoughts I couldn’t let go of in the past. This is monumental, because not being able to stop worrying was a key component of my illness; that problem has shrunk into a fraction of what it once was.
All of this is because I sit and listen for a half hour every day.
Feel the benefits
I’m not going to outline here the details of the practice of mindfulness, because there is a huge amount of information available online and in books. Let me just reassure you that, in my case, my mind has been retrained because of mindfulness, and I feel free in ways I couldn’t before: the ‘attentive observation’ that comes with mindfulness carries within it a pathway to happiness, on a trajectory that continues to rise. I cannot recommend the practice of mindfulness enough. Even if you think it may not be for you, perhaps give it a try!
Try a mindfulness workshop
Debbie van Tonder, Programme Manager of our Dean Clinics, brings us through a mindfulness practice to help us relax and ground ourselves in the moment.Click here to join the practice