How mindfulness can help make you healthier and happier
Introducing our new column from a renowned hypnotherapist
Ah, mindfulness. The word is everywhere. This week, for instance, the Dalai Lama is launching evening classes on mindfulness in order to make you happier and more empathetic.
But what is it? Even though I’ve practiced mindfulness for nearly 30 years — including a stint during the Nineties at a Zen temple in Japan — it is still a term that is difficult to define.
As a hypnotist, I am aware that most of us, most of the time spend our lives on “auto-pilot”. When I point this out to people they are sometimes incredulous. A few examples will usually prove my point: how often have you set out somewhere only to have found yourself at your destination with very little awareness or memory of the journey?
Or, have you ever found yourself in front of the fridge, door open, staring at the shelves even though you know there’s nothing you want to eat?
This kind of experience is not uncommon. It seems as though our nervous systems have developed very efficient ways of conserving mental energy, so that your body can safely go about its business while your attention moves inward, lost in daydreams and inner dialogue.
But what’s really happening? My understanding is that when we go on these auto-pilot journeys, unconscious processes take over and — for the most part — our conscious awareness practically goes to sleep.
Mindfulness is the way to wake up. If hypnosis is the tool that develops our unconscious skills, mindfulness sharpens our conscious awareness. It is the best way I know to get off of auto-pilot. If your default position includes depression, loneliness, anger, critical internal dialogue, limiting self-beliefs, mindfulness will transform your life. The science is overwhelming.
However, it’s also a fad. The only way to make it real and undo years of habituated thought patterns, is by actually doing the practice.
I believe that it should be easy and fun. One should start with small, achievable steps and to go from strength to strength. So start today. For one minute, every day for a week, sit still, and count your breaths. Keep your eyes open. I’ll make further distinctions in future articles, but for beginners, this is enough to begin to realise that you are in control. Enjoy.
- Joseph Pond is a clinical hypnotherapist, an acupuncturist, and a mindfulness instructor. He is co-founder of Hypnosis Explorers NI and sits on the National Board of NLP and Hypnotherapy. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org