Mindfulness is a method that can be used to deal with stress and anxiety. The method is that you focus on what is in the moment, in the present. Mindfulness is sometimes used in healthcare to more easily manage stress, anxiety and depression.
What is mindfulness?Mindfulness means mind presence or conscious presence.
This is important when practicing mindfulness:
- You are aware of what is happening right now.
- You have a curious and accepted attitude to what you experience. This means that you do not value or judge what you are experiencing in the present.
- You have an accepting attitude towards yourself and others. This means that you practice looking lovingly and tenderly at yourself and others. If it is difficult, you can practice at least looking neutrally at yourself and others. It is very important for you to feel good.
Some experience that mindfulness reduces stress, anxiety and depression. Some also think that mindfulness can be a help in dealing with pain and sleep problems. But so far there is no scientific study that clearly proves this. The overall results of today's mindfulness research show that mindfulness is good. But it is unclear what exactly is good and what effect mindfulness has in detail.
Mindfulness is sometimes used in healthcare to increase the ability to deal with the following ailments:
- Sleeping problems
- Mental disorders such as anxiety and depression.
Recently, research has been done in several areas where mindfulness can be helpful, for example for drug addiction and for eating disorders. Several studies are also about that mindfulness can be a help in dealing with mental disorders in various cancers.
Are there negative effects of mindfulness?
Mindfulness not only means pleasant relaxation, it can also be difficult and arduous. When you stop and are present in the moment, you can encounter both positive and negative thoughts, among other things, unpleasant feelings and memories can become clearer. If you have a mindfulness instructor, it is important that he is knowledgeable in both psychology and mindfulness. It is also important that the instructor has a legitimate education for your particular ailments or illness.
You may experience strong negative emotions through mindfulness, which may lead to you not wanting to continue. Then it can be good with guidance in how mindfulness can be used.
If you are mentally unbalanced or have previously had a psychosis, you may need to talk to a doctor who is knowledgeable in mindfulness before doing certain types of mindfulness exercises. Both lying and sitting meditations can evoke strong emotions.
Some become too fond of practicing mindfulness and do long meditations to avoid the heavy demands of reality. Then there is a risk that mindfulness becomes an escape from reality instead of a help to deal with difficulties.
You who have a great need for control may have difficulty just following your breathing. Some people find it uncomfortable and start to control their breathing instead of letting the breathing take care of itself. Sometimes it can be easier to count the breath at each exhalation from 1-5 and then start again. As soon as you notice that you start thinking about something else, you start again at 1 and continue doing so during the meditation.
The brain has a hard time distinguishing between what is real and what is made up. Therefore, it does not differentiate between what you think and what you experience in reality. This means that if you think thoughts that make you anxious or stressed, the body reacts as if it really were. You can not rule out negative thoughts. Learn to handle them instead. Thoughts are mental events and images.
It is easier to get a distance to the thoughts if you pay attention to thoughts as just thoughts and not as facts. Then, for example, worrying and negative thoughts may be there without you being controlled as much by them.
Practice noticing things that make you feel good, such as a person's smile, nice weather, hot water, or another person's friendly behavior. Then you teach your brain to more easily pay attention to similar information in the future. Then it may be easier for you to notice things that give you joy and satisfaction in life.
Old experiences control how you react and act
During childhood, self-esteem develops and you learn how to expect to be treated by other people. Based on these experiences, you automatically react according to old patterns. When you react automatically in this way, you repeat the old thing over and over again. In this way, the old experiences control and shape your life more than you are aware of.
When you look at yourself without judging, you observe curiously and with a beginner's mind. You may notice that you are very much guided by negative thoughts and perceptions about yourself. Whatever it is for you, it is important not to judge yourself. By becoming more aware, accepting and seeing it as it is, it will also be possible for you to influence your actions and to initiate a change.
We usually react quickly and automatically, in the same way as we have always done. Even if you are aware of why you feel a certain way in a certain situation, it is not certain that you can do something different at that very moment. Therefore, it can be good to have some simple memory rules for how to deal with yourself in a conscious way:
- Stop. Concentrate on the breathing movements for a while. It gives you a little break and a distance to the thoughts and feelings.
- Note. Try to get an idea of thoughts, feelings, the body and what is happening.
- Accept. Accept that the situation is as it is. You can not redo it but you can try to make the best of it.
- Answer differently. Try not to just react the same way you did before. Maybe you can do something new and different?
- Move on. You have done what you could in the situation even if it did not turn out as you intended. Now leave what was and do not grieve. Be open for the next moment.
Self-compassion is an area of mindfulness. It's about dealing with life in adversity. You give yourself comfort when life is difficult instead of harassing yourself because you do not meet your expectations. Self-compassion can, for example, make it easier to deal with self-criticism.
Self-compassion contains three parts:
- You face the pain but you do not get caught up in it.
- You realize that you are not alone. Everyone sometimes has a hard time, feels bad and suffers.
- You are actively comforting and kind to yourself.
We want to avoid what hurts, but if you constantly oppose the emotional pain you are exposed to, it can become more difficult to bear. Mental pain needs nursing just like an abrasion on the knee. When you dare to face your pain, you give yourself the opportunity to deal with it. Relate to your pain as a tender adult to an injured child. Re-patch and comfort, but do not let yourself be engulfed by it.
All people feel pain. Most are also self-critical. Feelings such as anxiety, shame and worthlessness can be easier to bear if you understand that you are not alone in them and that these feelings are an inevitable part of life.
Self-compassion is thus not about glorifying yourself, but more about an insight that life is tough for everyone, no one goes free.
You can practice your self-compassion. Mindfulness is the foundation of self-compassion and therefore it is good if you have some experience of mindfulness before you start practicing. You need to be aware of your difficulties or your suffering in order to give yourself comfort.