Being Mindful

Mindfulness is a state of mind achieved by focusing awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting your feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.

Trying to control or avoid worries or other negative thinking by answering back, chasing, or suppressing these negative thoughts can sometimes strengthen this negative experience rather than diminish it.

Mindfulness is one way of skillfully disengaging from or letting go of negative thinking.

This approach involves practicing how to notice when you are automatically drifting into negative thinking and then skillfully redirecting your attention back to the present, to the here and now.

It may be helpful to think of this approach in terms of a radio.

  • Imagine that the negative thoughts that drift into your mind as coming from a loud radio that is tuned to a station where the thoughts are very negative and seem to be shouting at you
  • The skill in mindfulness is not so much about trying to turn the radio off, but changing the way you listen to the radio
  • In this way the volume of the radio station can be reduced, and therefore seem less disruptive and distressing
  • However, the important thing to remember is this is not a quick fix, it is not easy, and requires regular practice
  • The thoughts may still shout at you, but you are changing the way you listen

Just like any skill, such as learning a musical instrument, you need to practice, practice, and practice! By practicing daily you may eventually become better at letting go, and be able to do things in a more informal way.

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