Toby Mizzi, Counselling Psychologist, Strong Minds Psychology
Mindfulness has become a bit of a buzz word in recent times, both in the discipline of psychology as well as more broadly in society. There is, though, good reason for this with the practice of mindfulness being linked to a number of indicators of well-being including reduced stress and anxiery as well as increases in cognitive flexibility. Mindfulness is defined in many different ways but generally includes a sense of present moment awareness that is accepting and non-judgemental. One popular definition of mindfulness is paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the moment, and non-judgementally (Jon Kabat-Zinn).
Based on the common understanding of what mindfulness is, there are a number of important elements that mindfulness involve, which are:
Present moment awareness – this refers to exerting control over your conscious awareness to take notice of what is happening in that very moment. This might include bringing your awareness to current sensory experiences (what you can see, hear, touch etc.) as well as current thoughts and feelings. It is paying attention to both internal and external experiences as they occur.
Acceptance/non-judgement – mindfulness involves an accepting attitude whereby the moment to moment experiences that you become aware of are not judged as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ but are accepted for what they are – just experiences.
A sense of curiosity is also often discussed in relation to mindfulness; that is, as we bring our attention to our moment to moment experiences, we attend to them with a sense of openness and curiosity. We explore the various experiences like a scientist trying to understand a new discovery.
You may be asking “what would you bring your attention too?” What do you mean by ‘experiences’? Well, this could mean any sensory, cognitive, or emotional experience you are having in that moment. Sensory might refer to any of the five major senses (what you can see, what you can taste, what you can smell, what you can hear, what you can physically feel/touch). Cognitive experiences refer to what is happening in your head including thoughts, while your emotional experiences form another part of your experiences that you can me mindful of. This might include noticing anger, stress, or anxiety in the present moment.
In this series of blogs, I will be writing about various aspects of mindfulness including what it is (and isn’t) and how we can bring a bit more mindfulness into our daily life. In doing so, I will also discuss the benefits of being mindful.
If you want to explore more, here is a useful introduction to mindfulness:
About the Author:
Toby shares his time between the Strong Minds Psychology team, Swinburne University, and his young family. He is passionate about providing individualised support, and empowering people to enhance their mental health. Toby provides counselling and therapy for children, adolescents, adults and couples – helping with depression, anxiety, self-esteem, relationship difficulties, grief &loss, and family conflict. Mindful Mondays will be a regular blog on our website and Facebook page.
If you would like to discuss how the Strong Minds Psychology team can support your mental health needs, complete the form below or call us on 0417 389 941.