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Meditation and Mindfulness have a variety of uses. They can be a great way to relax and destress, can increase our awareness and ability to accept and can also be used to improve focus and concentration!


Mindfulness with Hilary Jones

Our Staff Wellbeing Activities Yoga Instructor, Hilary Jones, has recorded a 6 minue mindfulness and intention setting meditation session that is great for improving your focus when working from home:


A guide to Mindfulness

What is “Mindfulness”?

Mindfulness is a way of thinking and promoting healthy living which can reduce the risks of succumbing to negative thoughts and emotions. It is all too easy to fall into the habit of trying to cram personal, family and leisure activities amongst a repetitive routine of eat, sleep and work without stopping to enjoy or appreciate these various components.

Mindfulness can help us to notice what is going on around us. It can encourage us to enjoy the quality of our leisure time rather than merely going through the motions. We can develop the ability to appreciate the environment that we live in, the experiences that we encounter and enjoy making healthy dietary choices. A connection between mind and body can then be established which is important with regards to the relationship between positive mental well-being and physical health.

Why is it important?

During our working lives, we are exposed to a number of situations that have the potential to promote feelings of stress, anxiety, anger and upset. If these feelings are not adequately acknowledged or managed, they have the potential to creep into all aspects of our lives. An individual may find that their normal activities are negatively impacted upon. Risks include disturbances of sleep due to excessive worries as well as the presence of repetitive negative thoughts. Problems with sleep are also likely to create daytime fatigue and irritability which may then lead to reduced performance at work. Soon enough, the ability to enjoy our precious spare time outside of work, is jeopardised. This could also lead to suboptimal interactions with our friends and family. Living with these emotions on a day to day basis increases the risk of developing ill health as a result of depression, anxiety or physical illness. In these particular circumstances, it is important to seek advice from a health professional and not struggle alone.

Mindfulness based cognitive therapy has been approved by the national institute for health and care excellence (NICE) as one of the options for treating depression. There are theories linking mindfulness with stimulation of areas within the brain that are responsible for positive emotions. Aside from treating ill health, mindfulness can gradually be incorporated as a way of thinking and living which serves to promote health and wellbeing.

What does it involve?

NHS Choices website offers advice about how we can incorporate these techniques into our routine. Firstly, we should take notice of everyday events and occurrences in our life. We might pick a regular time of day to focus on these observations and thoughts. We may also derive benefit from putting ourselves into new situations that allow us to gain different perspectives on our surroundings. It is important to realise that mindfulness does not involve making thoughts disappear but instead acknowledging our feelings in the present moment and not fighting against them. Activities such as walking or yoga can work hand in hand with mindfulness techniques or simply help to remove the focus away from a busy mind.

How do I develop mindful attitudes?

Professor Jon Kabat-Zinn, creator of the centre for mindfulness in medicine, health care and society at the University of Massachusetts medical school talks about attitudes of mindfulness. Some of his introductory videos are available on the internet. A summary of the attitudes is as follows:

1. Letting go

Avoid grasping onto what we think we want. We should also stop trying to push away things that we think we do not want. Accepting things that are out of our control may lead to decreased frustration and upset.

2. Non-judging

Developing an awareness of how we judge situations or form opinions, can help us towards achieving discernment as well as being at ease with our own thoughts.

3. Patience

Learning to overcome our feelings of impatience at work or in our free time may lead us towards a more relaxed and wiser state of mind.

4. Trust

In the same way that we trust our lungs to help us breathe, our eyes to let us see and our heart to circulate our blood, we can also learn to trust our mind with respect to it dealing with the daily challenges that we encounter.

5. Non-striving Letting things be and allowing some time for non-doing can be healing for the mind. This can help us to achieve a balance with regards to our apparent never ending ‘to-do list’. It means that we can be more productive and effective with the particular task that we are dealing with prior to dealing with the next task.
6. Gratitude and generosity Appreciating what we have in our lives such as the activities that we enjoy, the people that we interact with, and the experiences that we encounter. We can then develop satisfaction from helping others and giving something back to the community.
7. Beginner's Mind This essentially involves not being fixed in a certain mind-set but to approach each situation with an open mind and from a fresh point of view.


Further Resources and Reading

Logo of the sheffield buddhist centre

Sheffield Buddhist Centre

The Sheffield Buddhist Centre hold weekly, free meditations online, on a Friday night. Please see their website for more information. Useful talks, minfulness sessions and other videos can also be found on their YouTube channel.


logo of mindfulness company Breathworks

Breathworks

Breathworks aims to help people living with pain, illness or stress to reclaim their lives through mindfulness and compassion training. Breathworks are offering an online Mindfulness Taster Session on the 25th April. Please see here for more details.

www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/pages/mindfulness.aspx

www.nice.org.uk

www.mindful.org/jon-kabat-zinn-video-series-on-mindful-org

www.mentalhealth.org.uk/a-to-z/m/mindfulness