The term ‘mindfulness’ refers to the ability to be present to immediate experience, without the distorting effects of emotional reactivity. A mindful state of consciousness is one that is both present and aware, with the attitude of acceptance towards experience, even if what is transpiring is unwelcome, unwanted or unplanned. There is now a significant body of evidence demonstrating the significant psychological and interpersonal benefits of mindfulness.
Mindfulness training has been shown to increase focus, reduce defensiveness, to improve mental health, and to enhance interpersonal empathy; all of which creates measurable benefits associated with decision-making and people skills. According to The Mental Health Foundation (2010), people who are more mindful are less likely to experience psychological distress including depression & anxiety. They are less neurotic, more extroverted & report greater wellbeing & life satisfaction.
Mindfulness Resources #1:
Learning To Belly Breathe
Most of people are unaware that the breath is one of their most important real-time stress reduction resources. The capacity to belly breathe during stressful situations often means the difference between responding well and losing our control. The following excerpt from an article by Andrew Ramsden explains…
“We all breathe, but not many of us do it well”, says Cameron Aggs, Clinical Psychologist and Mindfulness Training Specialist. “Most of us expand our chest, rather than our diaphragm when we breathe in. This reduces the oxygen intake to the brain and is associated with the fight-flight reflex, as opposed to the relaxation response,” he explains. “Alternatively, slow belly breaths increase oxygen to the brain and body and bring an array of health benefits as well as helping to alleviate anxiety.”
Mindfulness Resources #2:
The 4-Breaths Technique
The 4-breaths technique is a great way to immediately enter into a mindful state of consciousness. It combines a motor movement of the thumb and fingers to help your brain stay focused for the duration of a 4-breath window. The trick is to breathe slowly. You want your belly to expand and to move outwards.
What makes the 4-breaths so great is that is that you can do this anywhere, anytime. You can do this when you first wake up, before you eat your meals, at the traffic lights, and especially in the shower. Practice this 4-5 times a day. You don’t have to go to the mountain to enjoy more mindfulness and less stress. Peace of mind is as close as your next round of 4 long, slow, deep breaths in.
Tips for learning how to belly breathe
Before going to sleep at night: Set your phone for a 3-minutes. Lie on your back with both hands on your belly. You will notice it is much easier to belly breathe in this position.
Two hands technique: Place one hand on your belly and one hand on your chest. Notice your breathing. Which hand is moving most? When you are ready, push the belly out as you breathe in.