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INTRODUCING Benefits of Mindfulness


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What if you could be granted the ability to tune out thought? Completely. All forms of mind-based stories; planning the future, reliving the past. Mulling over decisions, weighing up your options. Let me tell you a little secret about the benefits of mindfulness…

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Benefits of Mindfulness

Benefits of Mindfulness aims to shed light on the positive impact that mindfulness-based practices can have on our wellbeing, in particular for those who have experienced mental health or behavioural health challenges. Whilst society drives forward in addressing mental health stigma, there still remains a chasm around our understanding of holistic approaches, like mindfulness, and the increasingly-strong evidence around the benefits this can have for people in our modern lives.

First, Some Context

Did you know that anxiety ‘disorders’ are the most prevalent form of psychiatric condition in Europe? In the United States, 18% of the population are estimated to be diagnosed with anxiety disorders. Nearly 1 in 5 people!

When you consider that 1 in 4 will experience a mental health challenge of some kind every year, then it is easy to see just how big a piece of the puzzle anxiety-related challenges are.

Drawing of Human Brain, Wiggly Lines to Show Unsettled Thoughts

Why is Anxiety on the Rise?

As much as I am going to sound like an ‘old-timer’, I remember many, many years ago, back at school, and slightly more recently than that at university, a life that was significantly less stimulating. 

Smartphones had just started to gain popularity and were still pretty basic, social media was reserved for uploading awkward snaps from nights out and high speed internet was still a privilege, not a staple. I remember possessing a ‘smart’ phone that would take video clips and photos that made VHS look high definition.

Mobile Phone, Notifications Alerts

Now we are exposed to incessant notifications, status updates, explosive 24/7 news headlines, on-demand content, filters, views, followers, comments, likes, emails, video conference calls and the normalisation of high levels of screen time. Some of us remember when watching too much TV or even being too close to the screen, for example, was considered bad for our health. Now screen time is a commodity that companies want to exploit…

For example, compared to the 1990s, where screen time was limited to specific moments in the day and the monitors were significantly less advanced, very young children today are exposed to double the duration. Additionally the technology is significantly more captivating, over-stimulates the senses and content is designed to tap into our basal human desires and emotions.

Much of the rise in the reporting of mental health challenges like anxiety, is also to do with the openness of society today to talk about these topics. Nonetheless, we would be ignorant to not recognise the rate of change in the way we interact with one another and the rapid advancement of technology as being foundational in the massive impact on our experience of life.

How can we manage overstimulation?

Let’s be honest…

Technology is here to stay and it brings so many advantages with it and it isn’t going away any time soon. So what is the antidote to its negative effects?

Well, aside from the obvious strategies, like restricting exposure to screens, taking breaks from social media and being more conscious with what content you consume, there are other methods to calm the mind and become present.

Enter: The Benefits of Mindfulness…

Benefits of Mindfulness, exotic jungle, animals, nature, rainforest

What is Mindfulness?

Put simply, mindfulness is the practice of tapping into ‘presence’ meaning being here and now. Whatever you are doing; doing that, and only that. Human beings have a tendency to operate on auto-pilot, so you may be driving a car or walking the dog, but your mind is actually elsewhere, thinking about what you’re going to eat for dinner, or a regret over deciding not to take up that job offer from a year ago.

Humans Are Complex.

We have brains that have seen us through millennia! Survivors at heart, we adapt to whatever life throws at us and our brains, and more specifically, our minds, are the creative machinery that makes us so resilient. The thing is though, the same minds  that have created life-saving medicine and built world wonders, are the same minds that started world wars and destroyed rainforests.

So what does that tell us?

The power of the mind is immense. The same mind that can produce happiness and joy can also be our own demise. Humans have the ability to direct attention, to detach from thoughts and emotions, and  relinquish the tendency to want things ‘to be a certain way’. However, we also like to feel in control, thrive off planning and designing, repetition and certainty. In fact, it is precisely why our species has survived for so long.

The difficulty is that life is not predictable.

Our minds are conditioned by our surroundings and we become the sum of everything we see, hear and feel. So now that we are sat in front of screens for most of the day, our ‘surroundings’ have become what we see and hear on them, and our bodies respond accordingly.

Microstressors

A microstressor is an everyday little stressor in our lives that causes continual low-level anxiety. A very common example of a microstressor is the pinging of your phone push notifications, their pop ups, the vibrations, bright images and movement on the screen – all of that stimulation. Your response can either be positive, negative or neutral. However, whatever the reaction, you are not directing the show most of the time and so it is triggering you unwillingly and that is an issue that can have wider consequences on your attention, mood, resilience to stress and overall wellbeing.

Studies show that the higher the screen time; the higher the prevalence of anxiety and depression. The dilemma is that screens are not going anywhere. We need them to work, to keep in touch with friends and family, to survive pandemics, to find love. Abstinence is therefore not a long term strategy. However, human beings do have a great ability to adapt.

Mindfulness Practice as a Human Adaptation

Most scholars would agree that humans began to explore ideas around consciousness many thousands of years ago, albeit mediated through practices that linked to wider belief systems. Our ancestors began to develop practises like meditation, prayer and fasting to help foster a sense of grounding and focus on an innate ‘presence’ or ‘awareness’ that resides within. Developed was an ability to step away from the chaos of the material world, detach from the stories that our mind portrays to us – and just simply ‘be’.

Start The Benefits of Mindfulness Journey Now

Mindfulness is not something that you need any special apps to support you with, or a university degree, or months in a monastery, although those experiences certainly may expedite your journey of understanding and develop your practice.

Getting started with mindfulness, is as easy as just saying…

S.T.O.P.

S: Settle down and get comfortable

T: Take some deep breaths

O: Observe your thoughts and feelings

P: Practice being ‘Present’ in that space

That. Is. It.

Anything that anyone else tries to tell you is either selling you a dream, or a product. The latter I do not necessarily have anything against if done sincerely and as a supplement rather than the solution. In fact I have used many mindfulness apps, attended mindfulness courses and purchased books and guides and gathered a lot of insight from these over the years.

Nothing beats simplicity though and once you get the hang of the above STOP practice then nothing else is necessary. You could be on a train, a plane, in a bar or a field. Mindfulness is meant to be an adaptable and straightforward way of engaging our natural ability to slow down. The more you practice, the better you get at implementing mindfulness wherever you are and whatever you might be doing.

What we aim to offer through Benefits of Mindfulness is a simple route to applying mindfulness to your everyday life and to get to a place where you are able to practice simply.

Click Below to Find Out More

Benefits of Mindfulness: Let’s Get Started!

John-Paul Kozah

John-Paul Kozah

John-Paul is the Founder of Benefits of Mindfulness and has been committed to working with and supporting the most vulnerable members of society throughout his career. Combining experience in the mental health sector and education, his aim has been to raise awareness about the impact of stress, anxiety and depression in modern life and explore the ways that mindfulness can help. John-Paul is a trained advocate, qualified teacher and has a particular interest in supporting open dialogue about mental health within minoritised ethnic groups.

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