What is Mindfulness? Answering FAQ’s about Mindfulness & Meditation

Mindfulness is being aware right now of how you feel both in your mind and body.  It’s also commonly described as ‘moment by moment awareness’ and is one of the skills you can develop and strengthen with meditation.

Without being Mindful, you often aren’t fully aware of what you’re doing or feeling, nor the impact that your thoughts or actions are having on you.  For example, do you often feel tired but you are not sure why?

(This transcript has been edited for clarity)

Are you aware of why you’re feeling tired?

Let me ask you some questions about how your body feels;

  • Does your back ache first thing in the morning?
    • Or when you’re getting out of your car?
    • Or when you’re sitting at your desk?
  • Are there times that your shoulders feel stiff and knotted?
  • Do you end the day with a pain in your bum which radiates down your leg?

These physical pains contribute to how tired you feel. They’re frequently brought on by how you’re responding to stresses in your life.  I used to get all of these when I was driving down to London (from Suffolk) every week to study for my acupuncture degree.  Not only was I doing heavy duty study, I was also holding down a part-time job.  Stress and tiredness?  Oh yes!

Mindfulness makes you feel betterMindfulness enables you to be proactive.

Physical aches and pains are one source of tiredness but emotional upsets are another!  Mindfulness identifies when you’re feeling angry or frustrated. These feelings contribute to your fatigue.  It also points the finger when anxiety and worry are playing their part too. When you’re aware of what’s happening you can BE PROACTIVE in doing something to stop these energy drains affecting you so much.   In fact, I can’t recommend mindfulness enough!  Combined with meditation, it was an invaluable tool in rebuilding my energy after 4 years of studying and working.

Mindfulness and your auto-pilot

Your brain is really good at programming actions that you frequently carry out into a short, easy to use ‘auto-pilot’ mental sequences.  This is both a really useful process and a ‘not useful’ one at the same time. Mindfulness helps you identify the differences so you can decide which ones to keep and which need to be ditched. First a useful one:

Think about getting up in the morning: 

1) Your brain realises it’s getting up time.

2) It triggers your eyes to open, your arms to throw back the covers.

3) It tells your legs to swing out of bed, for you to sit up, stand up and walk into the bathroom.

These are regular habits which your body has programmed into an automatic or ‘auto-pilot’ sequence. It’s pretty useful not to have to think about this process in any great detail, especially first thing in the morning. Next, the ‘not useful’ aspects of auto-pilot that are active in your workplace…

Your auto-pilot in your workspace:

neck shoulder tensionJust like getting up in the morning, you can develop a completely unconscious way of working in a workspace and NOT notice the negative effect it’s having on your body.

Here are some examples of what might be happening to you:

Wisdom Mind symbolYour head is poking forward, concentrating on your computer screen (a cause for neck ache or a headache).

Wisdom Mind symbolYou’re leaning forward out of your chair (persistent tension in your back causes muscles to tighten and ache or press on your nerves causing pain).

Wisdom Mind symbolYour shoulders get tight as your arms extend out towards your keyboard or mouse for long periods of time (causing shoulder, neck and possibly upper back ache)

Using your mindfulness

Using mindfulness, you can be aware when any of the above (or something similar) is happening. Then you can make the pro-active choice to move to break the cycle of persistent tension.  Here are some of the things I do that you might find useful as well.

Wisdom Mind symbolHave a bit of a stretch.

Wisdom Mind symbolWalk around for a bit.

Wisdom Mind symbolSit back and relax.

Mindfulness meditation & your powers of self-healing

Use mindfulness meditation to wake up your own powers of self-healing.  The three examples above are just the tip of the iceberg on how you can help yourself!

Fancy giving some meditation a go? Try this: www.wisdom-mind.co.uk/9-breaths-to-a-calmer-mind/ It’s free, simple, and quick and easy to use.

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