Mastering mindfulness is a key technique in helping to reduce anxiety, but is surprisingly simple to do, if you understand some basic principles. It should never be a chore. Here are 12 simple steps to mindfulness:
- Understand that thoughts, feelings and behaviours are intimately connected.
- Recognise that our response to events is due to the way we interpret them, not the event itself.
- Accept that the present moment is the only reality; the past and the future are not reality.
- Pop-up thoughts are random, involuntary thoughts that only lead to voluntary thoughts - negative storytelling, rumination about the past or worry about the future - if you choose to let them.
- Acknowledge thoughts for what they are; thoughts, words, phrases.
- Be a detached observer, accept thoughts as something you are doing and that you choose to give meaning to.
- Let go of thoughts instead of 'chasing them down the rabbit hole'.
- Feelings (emotions) are fed by thoughts, and in turn feed thoughts. Accept them as a normal part of human experience.
- Develop mastery over attention - focus and broaden attention at will; learn how to shift attention away from yourself (your thoughts, feeling, sensations, behaviour) and onto something more helpful or just connecting to the rest of the world.
- Changing your behaviour, using relaxation, calms the body and the mind - you cannot be anxious and relaxed at the same time!
- Practice mindfulness techniques often to appreciate the here and now, the present moment.
- Don't worry about not doing your mindfulness exercises every day; that is anything but mindful!
Bill Sheate - 25 March 2017