What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the practice of purposefully paying attention to where you are and what you are doing at any given moment. One of the aims is to become aware of painful thoughts and feelings as a way of reducing the impact they have on you.
Becoming more mindful can help you cultivate a mental state in which you willingly accept what is happening in your life without overlaying it with judgements of ‘good’ or ‘bad’.
Doing this gives you an opportunity to figure out how you are really feeling. This in turn helps you find a level of acceptance that allows you to be gentle with yourself, which is vital when you’re living with a tricky chronic condition such as diabetes.
The health benefits
Research suggests that practicing mindfulness has a wide range of mind and body benefits, including stress reduction, improved short-term memory and an enhanced ability to focus.
In his best-selling book, The Happiness Trap, UK-born Dr Russ Harris, a GP and author who lives in Australia, says that becoming more mindful can help you to accept the curve balls life throws your way – such as a diabetes diagnosis.
Mindfulness can also help you let go of self-defeating habits, whether they are cycles of negative thoughts or unhealthy addictions such as smoking.
Sounds good… how do I get started?
One way to become more mindful is to learn some basic meditation techniques. You can attend classes, or listen to apps or audio programs that outline how to focus your mind. Or you could try taking a few minutes each day to sit or lie still and listen to all the external noises outside your body… to the traffic, the chirp of birds, your neighbours talking. Just follow the sounds.
When you drift into thought, or judgement, recognise you have done this and gently return your mind to the external sounds.
You may struggle to maintain focus at first, but after a few sessions, you’ll begin to notice you’re developing a new awareness, openness and focus. This will go a long way towards cultivating a stronger sense of calm and ease with how your life is going right now.
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