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  Stroud, Gloucestershire
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Stepping stones across the water

Mindfulness


I am including this page on mindfulness, not as a substitute for counselling but as something to think about as part of a healthy lifestyle - part of taking care of ourselves.

By 'mindfulness' I mean practices and techniques that are based in meditative practices that people around the world have used and found helpful for thousands of years. Mindfulness is something that can be practised by anyone, regardless of whether or not they have a religious faith.


What is mindfulness practice?

Firstly to state the obvious, it is a practice. You can get pointers from books and articles, that's a good starting point. However the real learning comes from giving it a go. It is experiential.

Secondly, it seems worth saying that it is easy to fall into the trap of trying too hard. Think of it in terms of a gentle getting go, rather than forcing thoughts out of your mind. (If I say 'don't think of a purple elephant', probably the first thing that will come into your mind is a purple elephant!)

It really is the trying in an accepting way that is important, rather than a goal of perfection.

It involves practising focusing your mind on specific things; and learning what helps and hinders you in this process. In doing this, it can increase your understanding of how your mind habitually works. You have to know how something is now before you can make any changes.

Often our minds flit about, not focusing in the present moment. It can be enlightening to see how little time we do spend focusing in the present. Yet it really is all we have. By learning to focus, we can get the most out of our experiences - get more out of our lives.


Particular techniques

There are a wide variety of techniques and approaches to mindfulness and this can be confusing. However these are just tools - ways of helping you focus. I would suggest finding a way that works best for you rather than getting caught up in 'right' or 'wrong' ways.

It does not need to be complicated. One simple technique that you can practice regularly seems so much better than a complicated regime that is difficult, if not impossible, to keep up.

It could, for example, be something you do as a walking meditation on the way to work; a relaxing body scan at the end of the day; focusing on having a cup of tea. There are endless possibilities, but choosing something to fit into your daily routine means you are more likely to practise.


Focusing on the breath

One basic technique involves focusing on your breath. There are examples of this in various cultures going back thousands of years. In other words, it has proved itself as an effective technique.

From a modern perspective, it is easy to do wherever you are. It needs no equipment; and can be done for a length of time or just a couple of minutes before you go, for example, into a busy meeting or job interview.


Mindfulness and counselling

As someone who has practised various forms of mindfulness for over forty years, I appreciate its value. In the last few years I have introduced mindfulness ideas to clients who were interested in using these techniques, both within our counselling work and in their everyday lives.

I feel it can be a valuable tool for anyone, helping to contain anxiety and improve concentration.


Articles on mindfulness

Here are some articles from my blog looking at some aspects of mindfulness.

Be mindful...have a cup of tea

Anxiety, mindfulness and purple elephants with pink spots on

Chuang Tzu's useless tree

A space for reflection


Suggested reading on mindfulness techniques

The paperbacks below clearly set out information on techniques and exercises in mindfulness.

These books also have accompanying CDs containing exercises of varying lengths - some only 2 or 3 minutes long; and therefore suitable for the busiest of people.

 


Counsellor

Confidential counselling services in Stroud, Gloucestershire for individuals and couples.

Face-to-face therapy; and telephone counselling.

Registered provider with private health insurers including Bupa, Aviva Health, PruHealth, Cigna and WPA.

Psychodynamic clinical supervision for counsellors.