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One tip to cultivate a sense of mindfulness

Over the past few years, the concept of mindfulness has become increasingly popular. This is an idea borrowed from Eastern philosophy such as Buddhism and is now often incorporated into Western therapies. Mindfulness is simply paying attention to something in a particular way. On purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally. Instead of judgment or criticism, this attention is curious and kind.

Here is the rub...the modus operandi of our minds is to seek and solve problems. This means that we are constantly, often automatically, on the look out for glitches that need fixing and so we are very practiced at finding faults! It is a 'critical mind' by design. Mindfulness, therefore needs cultivating.

One simple tip:

One practice that you may find useful is paying attention to, or being mindful of, your own thoughts. Stop for a moment, take three calm deep breaths, and listen to the internal tape recorder playing in your mind. What do you say to yourself? Are they kind words? What do you say to yourself about others? Some may be positive or neutral thoughts...others may be negative...listen to your thoughts in a non-judgemental way as you can be assured that we all have these at some time or another. The negative thoughts often dominate when we are stressed or unhappy. Try to understand what is going on for you in that moment...perhaps something happened earlier in the day that triggered your mindset...gently reframe your thoughts into more positive and therefore helpful thoughts.

And remember, when we cultivate an ability to listen to our own thoughts, we are better able to listen to the thoughts of others. Indeed, listening to, and then changing our thoughts, is some of the most powerful psychological work you can do!

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