Why mindfulness is a powerful tool for wellbeing

Why mindfulness is a powerful tool for wellbeing

Our health in general can be impacted in different ways, however, health practitioners cite mindfulness as one of the best ways to practice in order to improve physical health.

Omer Mayobera, a peace-building and development practitioner with knowledge in psychology, says mindfulness shouldn’t be complicated as many might want to put it.

To be mindful, he says, simply means to pay attention to what is happening in the mind, body, and immediate environment and to remain present while curious and compassionate.  

Studies define mindfulness as the practice of purposely focusing your attention on the present moment, and accepting it without judgment.

It has also been established that mindfulness is a key element in stress reduction and overall happiness.

Celestine Karangwa, a physiotherapist at TCM Technology Clinic in Remera-Kigali, says currently, there is a growing recognition that mindfulness-based therapies offer support for our mental health.

Mindfulness suggests the mind is fully involved in what is happening, the space around you, and anything you might be doing. Photo/Net

Practicing mindfulness can bring improvements in both physical and psychological indicators as well as positive changes in health, attitudes, and behaviours.

He says, from a physiotherapist’s point of view, mindfulness is beneficial when it comes to improving in response to a straightforward set of meditation practices that develop an increased awareness of thoughts, sensations, and feelings.

Combined with other therapies, Karangwa points out that this technique has been established to improve one’s capacity to cope by identifying the options available to them.

“The most important aspect when it comes to mindfulness is that it can lead to greater wellbeing and mental clarity, and an increased ability to care for oneself and those around them,” he says.

Karangwa notes that it helps support many attitudes that contribute to a satisfying life, as it helps one become fully engaged in activities, and creates a greater capacity to deal with adverse events.

Mayobera says that by focusing on mindfulness, one is less likely to get caught up in worries about the future or regrets over the past, is less preoccupied with concerns about success and self-esteem, and is able to form deep connections with others.

Sylvestre Twizerimana, a clinical psychologist in Rwanda, says practicing mindfulness techniques helps improve physical health in different ways.

For instance, he says, it can aid in relieving stress, treat heart disease, lower blood pressure, reduce chronic pain, and improve sleep, among other benefits.

He goes on to note that mindfulness meditation is also used as an important element in the treatment of a number of problems, including depression, substance abuse, eating disorders, anxiety disorders, among other conditions.

Some experts believe that mindfulness works, in part, by helping people to accept their experiences, including painful emotions rather than react to them with aversion and avoidance.

Combined with psychotherapy, especially cognitive behavioural therapy, Karangwa says this technique helps people gain perspective on irrational and self-defeating thoughts.

Despite many techniques to practice mindfulness, experts believe that the goal is to achieve a state of alert, focused relaxation by deliberately paying attention to thoughts and sensations without judgment.

This, they say, allows the mind to refocus on the present moment. All mindfulness techniques are a form of meditation.

From different research and studies available, Mayobera says one way of doing this is sitting quietly and focusing on your natural breathing or on a word or mantra that you repeat silently.

This, he says, is believed to allow thoughts to come and go without judgment. Notice subtle body sensations such as an itch or tingling without judgment and let them pass. Notice each part of your body in succession from head to toe.

Also, he says, it’s suggested that one should learn to allow emotions to be present without conclusion.

This should be done by practicing a steady and relaxed naming of emotions such as joy, anger, frustration, and accepting the presence of the emotions without judgment and letting them go.

Twizerimana says it is also recommended that some types of meditation primarily involve concentration, like repeating a phrase or focusing on the sensation of breathing, and allowing the parade of thoughts that inevitably arise to come and go.

Concentration meditation techniques, as well as other activities such as yoga, can induce the well-known relaxation response, which is valuable in reducing the body’s response to stress.

Meanwhile, focusing on an aspect of your breathing, such as the sensations of air flowing into your nostrils and out of your mouth, or your belly rising and falling as you inhale and exhale, is also another recommended technique for mindfulness.

Embrace and consider each thought or sensation without judging it good or bad. If your mind starts to race, return your focus to your breathing. Then expand your awareness again.

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