Is Mindfulness Just A Gimmick?
I had never heard about mindfulness up until about 5 years ago. It was a concept I was not familiar with, and yet suddenly it was everywhere! Celebrities were raving about it, schools were dishing out mindfulness colouring sheets, magazines spun various articles about it and athletes swore by it to improve their performance...So where did mindfulness crop up from?
Well, it is not a new concept and has deep rooted connections in Buddhism. Many feel it is a form of meditation but mindfulness is more about being connected to the present moment, being aware of our thoughts and feelings, bodily sensations and the environment surrounding us. A note to self 'You are here.'
This connecting to the present is helpful to us as we often make connections to the past which can feed us fear and anxiety. By staying in the present in a non judgemental way, but just focusing on what is happening, means the door is not ajar for negativity to creep in.
So does it really work? Yes it certainly does. All research (of which there has been plenty) points to positive evidence that mindfulness really has great effects. It can help support healthier sleep patterns, stress levels decline meaning a healthier body and mind. Relationships flourish, the working memory increases and dwelling on negative experience begins to diminish. There is even research to show that the brain structure can be physically altered by mindfulness, weakening the fear and stress connections. Within breastfeeding it helps build deeper connections between mother and baby, increases milk flow/production and supports a calmer and healthier mother.
I assumed mindfulness would be easy to get to grips with and instantly give de stressing results, however mindfulness is a skill and needs to be practiced and repeated daily. The idea is to start with daily mindful moments and build on these. This does not mean you have to stop and drop everything and get into full lotus position (although this works for some!), mindfulness can be bought into shower time, washing dishes, waking up in the morning, breastfeeding baby. Working towards creating longer periods of mindfulness, staying positively in the present and then gradually reaping the rewards you are working towards.