Is mindfulness just some new-agey, tree-huggy fad? No. It's well-supported by science. And it could give you significant benefits.
What is mindfulness?
It's deliberately observing events, objects and our emotions - as they occur and without judgement.
It's simple. You could sit in a comfortable chair and focus on your breathing. As your mind wanders (and it will) just draw your attention back to the breaths. Notice the way your ribs move as you inhale. Notice how they move back as you exhale.
If you are out walking the dog, stop and take note of the colour and texture of the trunks and leaves of the trees. Notice the way the branches support the twigs at the end and how the leaves flutter in the breeze or lie still. That's mindfulness too.
You are savouring the experience. Make that detailed, deliberate observation a habit.
Feel a wave of worry or anger coming on? Note it, accept it without judgement and allow it to pass. Stay in the present and you won't ruminate – the main cause of prolonged anxiety and anger.
So how much difference would mindfulness make?
Researchers have established that people who savour experiences are happier. So are people who accept negative emotions without judgement and allow them to pass.
Happier people have better health and relationships and it's an upward spiral.
Harvard University summarises the science on the benefits of mindfulness as:
- Less depression
- Less anxiety
- Fewer relationship conflicts
- Less stress
- Lower blood pressure
- Less chronic pain
- More sleep
Not bad for a pleasurable activity that costs nothing but a little time and concentration.
How many times have you heard people say, 'Take time to smell the roses'? They were right. Study the folds of the petals and savour the richness of the colour while you are there.