June 28, 2011

Mindfulness as a Practice

Mindfulness meditation is a way of paying attention to your life, on purpose, in the present moment in a non attached way. By observing, non judging or analysing thoughts and feelings, allowing them to ‘come’ and ‘go’ as they come and go. Mindfulness is an intentional way of ‘being’ in life. The present moment is emphasised – the past is in the past and the only influence we can have over the future is to live fully and consciously in the ‘now’.

Being mindful allows us to be aware of important feelings and other problems that interfere with the daily management of life’s difficulties – this then allows us to make conscious effective decisions about life challenges. The opposite of mindfulness is ‘mindlessness’ where our thoughts and actions can limit our conscious decisions.

Mindfulness Creates Awareness

What happens when we are not being aware?

• Denial
• Repeating negative mistakes
• Feeling powerless
• Feeling anger
• Internal conflict
• Feeling paralysed

What happens when we are aware?

• We can identify problems
• We can take positive steps to help ourselves
• We are not overwhelmed by intense horrible feelings and emotions
• We become aware of negative automatic responses in behaviour and thinking
• We participate fully and consciously in our life
• We are able to focus on one thing at a time

When we are mindful we are letting go of trying to control, avoid or suppress negative thoughts or feelings by observing our experience in a different way.

This way of being takes practice and is different to other forms of mediation whereby you are ‘taking yourself away’ from thoughts and feelings by using relaxation techniques, positive thinking, or visualising something nice.

This way of being is about discovering what is going on in your mind, of becoming aware of your inner thoughts and being able to ‘be’ with them – this awareness helps stop rumination, going over past negative situations and over analysing intrusive thoughts and feelings.

Mindfulness takes patience and practice and takes time to develop, it is more a way of being than something you sit and do. Over time you will develop new habits and develop new skills to break free from limiting or unhelpful habits.

Start to practice now:

Start by consciously practicing for 10 minutes each day.

  • Find a comfortable chair and sit in a relaxed and alert posture.
  • Pay attention to your breathing to each breath in and out. This will ground you in the present and allow you to move into a state of consciousness and stillness.
  • Ask yourself ‘what am I experiencing right now” and observe yourself in the present with whatever is happening. Identify any thoughts or feelings you have and stay with them... until they pass. Focus back on your breathing.
There may be other sensations you experience besides thoughts or feelings – you may be aware of bodily sensations...allow them, don’t analyse and wait for them to pass.
If painful or negative emotions or feeling occur... just watch them, don’t get caught up in them.. they will pass.
Label feelings and emotions eg. ‘that’s a sad feeling’ that’s an ‘angry thought’ NOT ‘I am sad’, ‘I am angry’.

YOU ARE NOT YOUR THOUTHTS AND FEELINGS – THEY ARE JUST THOUTHS AND FEELINGS.. they will pass. Allow them to drift away and they will gradually decrease in intensity and frequency.

With practice you will become the observer and witness to your experience. By embracing the full range of what we experience as human beings including pain in all its various forms, worry, anxiety, impatience, anger, grief, sadness, loneliness, anguish and despair we can lessen the power they have over our lives and move into an enhanced state of awareness.

If you would like to learn more about mindfulness and how it can benefit you please contact our counselling unit for an appointment 02 9542 4029.

Deborah, Counsellor at Enough is Enough


  1. Great article! For a longer time I search for a way to fight stress. And I just could not believe I found the answer now, thru: Meditation.

  2. Great article! For a longer time I search for a way to fight stress. And I just could not believe I found the answer now, thru: Meditation.