Is mindfulness over hyped?
Mindfulness is such a buzzword now, but is it over hyped? I thought I knew a little bit about mindfulness so I set out to find out if all the hype was warranted. During March, I ran a popup Facebook group “Mindful March”. In the group I went live to talk about mindfulness at 6:30 am each morning. Okay, there were a few guest posts and prerecorded videos in there too. The group had a bit of fun and learnt a lot. The research is clear. There are benefits to practicing mindfulness.
Daniel Goleman and Richard Davidson recently investigated thousands of mindfulness studies for their book Altered Traits: Science Reveals How Meditation Changes Your Mind, Body, and Brain. They found four real benefits from mindfulness: stronger focus, staying calmer under stress, better memory, and good corporate citizenship.
Running Mindful March 2018
What became apparent to me during our Mindful March was that mindfulness is a huge topic and there is much to learn. Our group started each morning with a live Facebook post providing a rationale for the Mindfulness topic of the day. Adjacent were educational posts with links to articles and videos. In the afternoon we used posts to check how group members had experienced the mindfulness exercises. And finally we enjoyed ad hoc member input. Each day as we reviewed what we noticed in the mindfulness exercises I was struck by how much I noticed and learnt when practicing what I preached.
Creating a Mindful Flow
Each day of the week had a mindfulness theme to give our week flow. Mondays were about mindfulness of thoughts. We investigated our thoughts, unhooking from thoughts, noticing our rules, beliefs and values, gratitude, and acceptance. Group members touched my heart with the beautiful thoughts they shared, “I plan to make mindfulness a natural part of my everyday life. Be kind. Be patient. Be brave. Speak my truth. Look after me…like me…I am enough.”
On Tuesdays we practiced mindful action such as mindful walking, stretching, connecting with hugs and practicing random acts of kindness. Who knew mindful walking was such a thing? A Google search brings up about 3,720,000 results. We focused on simply walking in the outdoors as a start.
Surprise topics such as enjoying a mindful cuppa, self-compassion, mindful eating and mindful routines were for Wednesdays. Group members expressed surprising benefits, “I had braces fitted today and as a result, I was forced to be mindful in my eating. I had to focus on each and every texture so carefully. It was irritating at first but then I just let go and went with it.”
On Thursdays we focused on mindful breathing, starting with a basic calming breath and working our way through three-part breath, humming bee breath and alternate nostril breathing. I have a whole new appreciation for my breath now and find myself stopping several times a day to simply breath properly.
Fridays were all about our senses from a simple grounding exercise through to interoception. Saturdays we mindfully connected with ourselves, with nature and those around us – even connecting mindfully over social media. And Sundays focused on self-care and what really matters to us. Practicing being our authentic self was challenging for some.
Continuing our mindfulness journey
We only touched the surface of mindfulness during the month. Like most activities, the more we practice, the easier it gets. Just noticing how often I hold my breath was a breakthrough and led to better breathing for me. Mindful March created a toolkit of ideas to bring mindfulness into everyday life. It’s made the practice of being mindful just a little easier. Group members were able to connect with a range of resources to continue their practice. I’m looking forward to continuing my mindfulness journey. What about you?