Mindfulness and mental health
Mindfulness has been defined in as many ways as there are teachers of it, but three characteristics that define it are:
Deliberate awareness (paying attention on purpose)
Non-judgement (not liking or disliking)
Non-reactivity (not reacting in a knee-jerk way but responding in a balanced way)
Lack of awareness can be seen as the culprit for a lot of our problems; think of bumper bashings, burning yourself when cooking, saying something without thought of the impact, losing your keys. So it makes sense that our peace of mind and sense of control would improve if we have awareness when doing things and as we move through our day.
So now we are aware, but then we start to think- and judgment follows almost automatically. Like- dislike, good-bad, me-mine. This leads to tension in our mind, whether we want something or want to avoid it. Reactivity is the next natural step, grasping or chasing or desiring if we like something, trying to escape or harm when we don’t like something -or someone. See how little control we have over our mind and therefore over our mental state, at any given time? No one can afford to judge, as we all share these habits, so therefore we are all ‘mentally unhealthy’ a lot of the time. This month of mental health awareness has something for everyone! (see www.practicalmindfulness.co.za for workshops and free downloads on what practical mindfulness is, why you may want to learn it, and how to do it!