I am often asked what is present moment awareness – what is mindfulness and how does this differ to meditation…. good questions!
You will hear in so many forms from so many different people; “the present moment is all that we have” – “the power of now” – “the present moment is all there ever is”.
So what does that really mean – the past and the future are simply thoughts and memories – they are not in existence right now – and yet most of us, resist living in the present moment and consequently miss so much that is happening right now.
Mindfulness has so many facets to it – however, it is about expanding our moment to moment awareness with curiosity and without judgement – seeing things just as they are instead of relating them back to past or potential fears for the future.
When I first formally learnt meditation on the South West Coast of Ireland (seriously came back Mrs Chilled out!) I learnt Transcendental Meditation which focuses on an individualised Mantra. It involved sitting still for approx an hour and bringing my focus back to my Mantra each time the mind drifted off. It is powerful and enables you to easily connect with yourself within; my breathing would slow down, external noises would become distant and I would often be able to see different colours and images within my mind and inner vision.
Mindfulness in contrast to this, also has many formal meditations as well as ways of expanding awareness in every activity that we do – from eating to showering to walking, running, drawing, colouring, writing – we really can be bring mindful attention into all of our life.
However meditation, if practised over a period of time can help you be more mindful throughout your day.
So why? what benefit does that really give you? They say living in the past creates depressions, sorrows, regrets, shame, guilt, blame and all the other host of negative emotions…… they say if you live in the future you live in fears and anxieties – potentially bringing the limitations and negative thoughts and experiences from the past and projecting them into the future. So living in the present moment – is reported to reduce both low moods and anxieties – it puts you more in control as you step away from the myriad of thoughts and fears that are populating your mind. It gives you more connection with whats going on in real time.
There is also research (written by B Grace Bullock PHD) that says that present moment awareness buffers the effects of daily stress and actually increases stress resilience and well being.
Studies show that an individual’s disposition toward remaining in the present moment is linked to numerous health benefits including lower levels of perceived stress, anxiety and depression, improved mood, and a sense of improved well-being.
In this study a team of Australian researchers examined the effects of present moment-awareness in a sample of 143, well-educated university students and staff (76.3% female) who were part of an online mindfulness training course. The researchers surveyed the study participants with a focus on three stress response variables. (Peoples perceived competence, Peoples reliance on core values as a response and Peoples avoidance)
Results of this study confirmed that those with greater present-moment awareness were more likely to respond to stress with strategies that lead to greater health and well-being. Specifically, being able to be present in the moment when stressed was directly linked to greater perceived ability to handle that stress and more reliance on core values to navigate the stressful situationThe results of this study are particularly important given that the chronic and cumulative effects of daily stress can be extremely toxic to your health and well-being.
They suggest that being present and aware in the midst of daily hassles increases stress resilience, and serves to alleviate the harmful impact of stressors for days after. Mindfulness approaches that emphasize present-moment awareness may be uniquely suited to building a greater capacity to face whatever life throws our way.
There is so much that you can do to bring yourself back to present moment awareness from
A short breathing awareness – using the ABC principle – Awareness, breathing, conscious expansion – this takes just a few moments – check out our breath and mindful pause on our resources page
A simple 5 4 3 2 1 exercise – using your senses to expand your awareness – (I will write this up to share with you.)
Deepak Chopra gives a quick remedy : find a quiet place to be alone, close your eyes, take some deep breaths, and find your center again. Doing this several times a day is a good routine, because it alerts you in a mindful way to what it feels like to be steady and present.
I also have a lovely short mindfulness meditation that talks through putting down the heavy luggage and baggage of yesterday and tomorrow – if you would like a copy to be sent to you and to listen to at your leisure – click here to request this information
Don’t forget to get your free recording!
Till next time