Extracted from The Mindfulness Key by Sarah Silverton
The Benefits of Mindfulness
The following are some ways in which mindfulness has been acknowledged to support us:
CONNECTION Mindfulness can help us to feel a greater connection with ourselves, and with experiences in our bodies and our minds. We can also feel more connected to those around us and to the world that we live in.
PERSPECTIVE We can stand back and see things more clearly. Mindfulness helps us to look at the “bigger picture” of experience, which includes what’s right as well as the problems in life. It can open us to pleasurable experiences, perhaps offering us a more balanced view of how life is, moment by moment. We may also recognize that difficulties can arise from our own reactions, rather than being the result of external forces (and therefore out of our control).
CHOICE We can have more choice about where to place our focus of attention, and learn to open up and be receptive to the information this presents. Mindfulness also increases our repertoire of ways we can manage difficulties in our lives, giving us a greater range of choices about how to act. We learn how to respond wisely to what we find, rather than reacting habitually. Choice can also give us a greater sense of control over our lives and reduce our reliance on others.
SELF-KNOWLEDGE As we practise mindfulness, we spend a lot of time noticing and becoming familiar with all our experiences – including the difficult things in life – and learn to recognize how the different aspects interconnect. We learn a lot about our patterns and habits. The depth and detail of experience, that is both known through our thoughts but also known through our felt experience, can greatly add to our understanding. We can see how experience continually changes and unfolds over time.
KINDNESS/SELF-COMPASSION Learning to care for ourselves is a very important aspect of mindfulness. Learning to value ourselves and to respond to ourselves with kindness is often something that people find difficult to do. Through practising mindfulness, we learn to take care of ourselves when times are difficult and we are in pain. We can see when we are being self-critical and can feel the impact of this. We learn that we can be kind instead. As we become more in tune with our experience, we develop the ability to choose activities in our lives that nourish us and to do fewer of the ones that deplete us.
CHANGING MENTAL GEARS Neurologically, it appears that mindfulness allows us to engage a different “mental gear” – one in which we can see clearly how things are now – and find appropriate and creative responses that are relevant and helpful. It may already be clear that mindfulness is not simply a technique that can help people who have specific conditions to manage their symptoms. Indeed, mindfulness is much more a way of living – that is, a choice which is available to all human beings. Mindfulness is an approach that we learn over time and with practice, so that we may have skills available to us not only when life is difficult for whatever reason (as will inevitably be the case for all of us at some point in our lives), but also – importantly – when life is good, allowing us to engage fully in the moment and in living our lives.
The Mindfulness Key
£7.99, Available from Watkins Publishing
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