Some time ago, I did a therapy program called Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy. It basically blends CBT with mindfulness. There’s really 2 types of mindfulness, formal meditation, and everyday mindful living. I try to practice both. I do 45 min. of guided mindfulness meditation at least 3 times a week and that helps manage my stress wonderfully. But it’s the everyday mindfulness that really helps keep me engaged in the present, stops the chatter in my head and just basically makes me happy.
So what is it? There’s lots of definitions out there bu most of them involve these elements: a conscious, non-judgmental awareness of the present moment. It means not getting caught up in automatic thinking which can often be an unpleasant place because as I like to say, my brain is a bad neighbourhood. Mindfulness gets me out of it.
I’ve written a bit before about everyday mindfulness, but I want to once again give a few examples of my favourite moments.
- Sitting outside on a patio with a latte or an ice cream, enjoying the feel of the sun on my skin, feeling the breeze, smelling the summer air (ok so sometimes car exhaust isn’t the nicest) enjoying the taste of what I’m eating / drinking.
- My ultimate happy moment is when I’m hugging and petting my harp teacher’s dogs, feeling their fur, and seeing their tail wags, and getting licks. It’s 5 minutes of pure happiness.
- Playing the harp is also a mindful activity for me, as I’m 100% focused on the notes and my hands and the rhythm, and trying to get the best sound.
- Finally my most commonly used example of everyday mindfulness is knitting, and I do a lot of it, sitting around in hospitals waiting for appointments. And I tend to knit complicated stuff so if’s not brainless quick knitting. I have to concentrate on the pattern, the feel of yarn in my hands, the sound the knitting needles make, and seeing the colours in the yarn as I use a lot of variegated yarns.
In all of the above examples, I’m 100% focussed on the present. I’m not feeling bad about the past, I’m not worrying about the future or money. I’m engaging all my senses, and I generally feel happy. And that’s worth a lot to me.
If you’re interested in learning more about mindfulness, check out Jon Kabat-Zin. He’s got a newish book out, called “Mindfulness for Beginners” that’s excellent.