In this article we take a look at the benefits of mindfulness and share a couple of simple, colourful and creative mindfulness ideas.
Mindfulness is a practice. Like any skill it needs to be learnt, but for many of us that can be really difficult. We often don’t feel comfortable in the early stages of practice and that can deter us from trying again. Perhaps you have incorporated mindfulness into your daily life and are enjoying the benefits, however if you would like some fresh ideas, read on…
Dr Jon Kabat-Zinn, who first developed mindfulness in a therapeutic setting, says: “Mindfulness can be cultivated by paying attention in a specific way, that is, in the present moment, and as non-reactively, non-judgementally and openheartedly as possible”.
In mindfulness we are paying attention to whatever we choose to attend to.
The present moment and the reality of being in the ‘here and now’ means we observe and become aware of the way things are, as they are now. Nothing need change our experience. It is okay just as it is – it is valid, it is correct.
Non-reactively. A reaction is automatic. We have no choice; however a response is a deliberate and considered action, thereby being non-reactive.
Non-judgmentally. We are constantly thinking and judging each experience as good or bad, something we like or dislike. In the moment-to-moment experience of mindfulness we let go of judgment. This helps us see things authentically, openly and honestly.
Openheartedly. Mindfulness is an action linking the mind and the heart. To be open-hearted is to bring a quality of kindness, self compassion, warmth and curiosity to our experience. See if you can experience this.
Mindfulness can lead to relaxation but remember that the aim of mindfulness is not relaxation. In mindfulness, you can’t fail because you don’t have some experience you have to achieve. You simply practice paying attention to whatever your experience is, as best you can, and whatever happens, happens. You gain an understanding from your experience.
Reference: Kabat-Zinn, Dr. Jon “Full Catastrophe Living”
Remember those coloured pencils?
Once upon a time we all (in Australian schools) had access to a generous supply of coloured pencils and pens. Many of us carried a pencil case every day to school – how marvelous were those moments?! As children, throughout the day, we would get out our colours and use them in our schoolwork and play.
As children we were more: Creative, playful, delighted, absorbed, decorative, mindful.
Why colouring in? Colouring-in is a stress reducing activity. Once you settle down to colour-in and focus on the activity, your mind switches onto the task and you become mindful. As you focus, your heart rate decreases and breathing slows as you create calmness inside your body.
In cultivating mindfulness by colouring-in, you keep your thoughts in the present moment. The activity is non-reactive as you deliberately choose colours and concentrate on staying between the lines. There is no-judgment as there is nothing right or wrong in the activity. I have no doubt that you will enjoy a sense of openheartedness in this childlike space of pencils and paper. Just like Dr Jon Kabat-Zinn explained above.
When there is a joyful, absorbing task involved then mindfulness ‘just happens’ without you noticing.
The amygdala (the fear centre of the brain) relaxes – and your brain gets the rest it needs.
* TRY colouring-in on your own, with friends or family around the dining table – it’s fun, you can relax and talk. Unlike drawing, colouring is easy to do for all of us.
* STAYING between the lines, focusing on the shapes and choosing colours encourages us to focus on the task and slows down the rush of thoughts. You can forget your worries mindfully.
Please remember that what is helpful for one person may not be for another so experiment, explore and find what suits you.