What is mindfulness exactly, and how does it help our emotional wellbeing?
The leading trainer in mindfulness in Australia (and one of the best in the world) is Dr Russ Harris, bestselling author of The Happiness Trap and The Confidence Gap.
Mindfulness is an everyday practice that can ‘increase fulfillment, reduce stress, raise self-awareness, enhance emotional intelligence, and undermine destructive emotive, cognitive, and behavioural processes.’
There are two essential elements to mindfulness. The first is to become a nonjudgmental observer of our thoughts and feelings. It is about distancing yourself from what you think and what you do, and watching as if you were someone else – with curiosity and openness. It helps us to detach from negative thoughts and feelings and watch them come and go, rather than buy into them and allow ourselves to get stressed out as a result. Basically it allows us not to believe everything we tell ourselves! Because the truth is that most of our self-talk is simply NOT true! So when we are being mindful, we watch and listen (and laugh a lot of the time, because we really do say some ridiculous things to ourselves).
The second element of mindfulness is that we focus entirely on what we are doing in the present moment. Staying in the present enables us to focus on any task we are doing to the best our ability, free from distractions such as constant thoughts about what we should be doing, what we would rather be doing, what we have done and what we need to do. Our fantasies about what we would rather be doing often lead to suffering. Practicing gratitude (focusing on what we DO have rather than what we DON’T have) and making the most of what we ARE doing RIGHT NOW is the key to happiness.
If you are interested in reading more about Dr Russ Harris’ mindfulness work, his website is www.actmindfully.com.au.