Contribution from freelance writer Sally Writes
Stressed Out? Try Some ‘Mindfulness’ Practice
The word mindfulness has become a prominent fixture in western vernacular in the past couple of decades. It is a direct translation of the pali word ‘Sati’ which literally means to ‘keep something in mind’. So then, what exactly does this practice entail? In brief, we should understand that mindfulness is essentially a ‘centering’ practice that aims to make users more aware of how their bodies and minds function.
For example, a common method for being more mindful is through the observation of one’s breath. While this may sound like an easy task, it is much more difficult than you might think. For starters, you can begin with five minutes a day of watching the ‘in and out breath’. This steady awareness helps us tackle difficult emotions more efficiently and allows us to have a better perspective on things, as and when we are faced with them.
Some handy mindfulness techniques..
- Walking awareness: this technique was widely propagated during the time of the Buddha as it is highly portable and can be done on the go. The method entails the user being aware of his/her footsteps so that the attention is focused on the pressure sensations on our feet.
- Mindful Eating: this is another potent method that is highly useful to make ourselves more aware. While this might be difficult to practice during work hours, it can definitely be a handy tool when eating at home or when on a mindfulness meditation retreat.
- Visualisation: this is another method that has been propagated for centuries by various Hindu and Buddhist meditation practitioners. It involves us focusing on a visual image (candle, photo) and centering our awareness on the object for a certain period of time. This technique helps gather our awareness and allows us to feel refreshed in a small period of time.
How does mindfulness help me in real life?
Studies have shown that there is a direct correlation between mindfulness and lowered levels of stress. For example, people with a 15 minute daily practice were on average seen to be 46% less likely to face issues related to stress, anxiety and mental fatigue. These numbers are quite startling as they reveal that a practice this simple can greatly influence the way our mind works.
Where to get started?
There are many useful books on this subject that can help us get started into a regular practice. Other than that, it is also beneficial to check out local teachers who have had prior experience of meditation and mindfulness. Lastly, users can also go online and find a teacher that connects with them.