“Have you tried mindfulness?” “Mindfulness is the cure” “I swear by mindfulness”
When I struggled to walk, eat and I couldn’t sit still without trembling, mindfulness was recommended to me constantly. I got to a point where the next time someone mentioned it to me, I thought that I would surely implode. Whilst mindfulness is useful, it is not a miracle.
What is mindfulness?
Honestly, I’m not strictly sure – the definitions I’ve heard vary but the idea is to be present in the moment. It’s been proven to reduce stress and anxiety significantly. It is similar to meditation, which is really effective – when I can be bothered to practice it. Focusing on your breath is a form of mindfulness but others have told me fully submerging yourself in the process of doing an easy task, for example making a cup of tea, is another form. I’m not a mindfulness expert so if you are keen to know more, check out this book. It will help you to understand why, how and when to practice it.
My experiences with mindfulness
For weeks I visited a therapist and all he would talk about is he taught mindfulness, how good it was and how he used it everyday. He didn’t actually explain what it is to me, but I guess that’s beside the point. When I finally got a new therapist after realising that he was beyond hopeless, I told her, “My last therapist solely lectured me on mindfulness and quoted studies that proved its’ effectiveness and it isn’t working for me, can we not go down that path?”
She replied,”Mindfulness is like sticking a band-aid on a leg that’s been sawed off.”
So after the anger surrounding constant recommendation subsided, I actually gave it a try. It’s important to note that at this point I was in a much better place and I was able to attempt it properly. And I did find that it was really beneficial, it helped to distract me and subsequently calm me down. I don’t know if this is the correct way to be mindful, but when I’m feeling overwhelmed I will follow this list.
- WHAT FIVE THINGS CAN I SEE?
- WHAT FOUR THINGS CAN I TOUCH
- WHAT THREE THINGS CAN I HEAR
- WHAT TWO THINGS CAN I SMELL
- WHAT ONE THING CAN I TASTE
Usually I only get to the third item on the list because by that point I feel a lot better and I can resume whatever I’m doing. I would give it a try next time you are feeling anxious, but it might not be for everyone. If you are interested in trying mindfulness, check out this gift that can help you to learn how to practice it.
This is a great example of how what works for someone else might not work for you. There will always be people pushing “cures” onto you and you just have to remember that they mean well. There is no harm in trying techniques like this but if someone is forcing one on you, it can make you resist and resent it. I apologise for using the word “mindfulness” so much and if that frustrates you imagine how I felt when everyone seemed to be preaching its’ benefits to me.