Tired, distracted and stressed by the pace of modern life? Mindfulness might be the solution.
When I first learned mindfulness, I wondered what all the fuss was about.
To me, it felt a little bit like all I was doing was ‘focusing on the breath’ and, to be honest, I found it all rather boring and difficult.
I did learn earlier on that it was a lot harder than what I had anticipated. The challenge was to simply focus on my breathing and yet my mind would often wander onto so many other thoughts and ideas. I would sit and begin the process, counting each breath, but soon found that my focus would turn to what I had planned for later in the day, some past event that was annoying me, or even if I was simply doing it right.
It wasn’t until I began to realise that mindfulness was really about training the brain to allow me to choose what the distraction would be. Would it be the difficulties that we experience in everyday living, or would it be ‘the breath’?
As I continued to practice mindfulness, I found it became useful in another way. It allowed me to slip into ‘the observer’; the ability for me to take a step back and to observe my own thinking. This became powerful in allowing me to not become so caught up in my thoughts that would often cause me to feel stress and anxiety and take me away from being the kind of person that I wanted to be. Instead, I could observe my thoughts, acknowledge them, work through them, make meaning of them and potentially even let them go.
My exploration of mindfulness showed me that we are all too frequently living in the past or in the future but rarely in the present. The ‘now’ seemed so foreign and yet it was the one moment that allowed us to remember that we’re breathing and we’re ok. In those intense moments, it allowed me the luxury to just ground myself, to observe those difficult feelings and to just reduce the struggle that I had been experiencing moments before.
Created by Monash University and distributed online via Future Learn, the free online ‘Mindfulness for Wellbeing and Peak Performance’ training is a perfect way to introduce yourself to the skill of mindfulness and to develop some techniques that can aid you on a daily basis.
The course is being presented by two expert Mindfulness practitioners; Professor Craig Hassed and Dr Richard Chambers.
Associate Professor Craig Hassed is a General Practitioner and Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, and the Mindfulness Coordinator at Monash University. Craig is a regular speaker in Australia and internationally on the application of mindfulness for health and wellbeing. Craig has authored nine books, including Mindful Learning with Dr Richard Chambers.
Dr Richard Chambers is a clinical psychologist specialising in mindfulness-based therapies. A Mindfulness Consultant at Monash, Richard has published a number of peer-reviewed journal articles and was involved in the development of Smiling Mind, a website and smartphone app designed to make mindfulness accessible to young people.
You can register interest for this excellent online training at futurelearn.com.