Spotlight on Mindfulness
As part of Mental Health Awareness Week, today we’re going to briefly talk about Mindfulness with the help of the ever-useful resources from the Mental Health Foundation who are focusing their attention on it this year.
Following the United Kingdom 2015 General Election, there have been increasing calls to offer anyone in distress – not necessarily just people with mental health issues – access to mindfulness at the first point of contact (usually through a GP).
You may have heard the term before, but what is Mindfulness? Based loosely around some Buddhist meditation practices but with a growing body of scientific evidence –
“Mindfulness is paying attention to the present moment, without getting stuck in the past or worrying about the future. Mindfulness can be practiced standing, sitting and walking. It can be practiced both indoors and out; at home, in schools, at work or simply out and about. You can practice mindfulness for 5 minutes or 5 hours – that’s the great thing about mindfulness, you can tailor it to suit your own needs.
What you may be surprised to hear is that you have probably been mindful at some point in your life and didn’t even know it… Have you gone for a long walk, breathing in the crisp, fresh air and then suddenly realised that four hours have passed? Have you listened so intently to a song that for a moment, you weren’t thinking about anything but how beautiful the melody was?
infographic from mindful.org
Here, Dr Jonty Heaversedge, a GP – talks about his experience of Mindfulness and how he would like to raise awareness of it, seeing it rolled out as a common practice to offer to people in distress:
How can Mindfulness help me?
“Contrary to popular belief, mindfulness isn’t about emptying your mind of thoughts and ‘zoning out’. It can mean different things to different people. At the heart of it, mindfulness helps people observe the way they think and feel about their experiences, whether good or bad. This can really change the way you manage and react to stressful situations, giving you a valuable tool to stay mentally healthy, and an ever-expanding body of evidence shows that it really works.
Mindfulness is already known to be successful in helping people with mental and physical health problems, from stress, depression and anxiety to chronic pain, eating disorders and concentration, boost our productivity at work, and give us a greater enjoyment of life.”
Mindfulness is not just useful for mental health conditions, it has been shown to be effective for numerous complex needs, including chronic pain and other physical health conditions.
Ruby Wax, Comedian and Mental Health Activist talks about her personal experience of Mindfulness:
Where can I find out more?
The Mental Health Foundation are leading this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week with Mindfulness, so they are offering a lot of information on questions you might have – or if this sounds like something you’re really interested in – where you can get started!
You can ask your local GP, mental health team or other medical professional whether Mindfulness might already be available to you, and handily the MHF have produced a leaflet on Mindfulness (PDF) which can help get you started and includes such useful links as:
Our thanks to The Mental Health Foundation for all of these excellent resources!
Has Mindfulness helped you? Is it something you’re interested in? Would you like to see it become more accessible to people with mental health conditions or other complex needs?
Comment below, or get in touch with us at Vision Project Bolton on the About Us page if you have any ideas you want to propose!