Performance Psychology Blog: Mindfulness Practice
Mindfulness has exploded into western culture and is constantly growing in popularity, it seems it can make you walk on water.
What is mindfulness? It’s the self-regulation of attention in present moment, with an openness, willingness and awareness of experience.
The premise behind mindfulness is that for most of the day we operate on autopilot, mindless. If you asked most people what the had for breakfast, chances are they couldn’t really describe it.
Let’s discuss the proposed benefits of mindfulness:
1. Metacognitive awareness – you see your thoughts as just thoughts and not reality. This gives you space and flexibility form your thoughts.
2. Reducing you efforts to exert control over your thoughts.
3. Enabling positive influences of your experience of emotions.
4. Helps develop behavioural and psychological flexibility through increased sensitivity to cues and contingencies in the environment.
5. Improves your attentional focus, able to control and switch attention.
6. Improves your memory functioning by acting as a buffer on working memory capacity during high stress periods.
7. Improves your ability to self regulate.
Mindfulness is a skill and like any skill requires practice to cultivate. There are two types of practice, formal practice - seated meditation, mindful movement (hatha yoga), body scan and mindful breathing and informal practice which is any activity done mindfully (walking, eating, jogging). Informal practice is important for generalising mindfulness skills learned in practice into everyday life.
It’s advised to aim to practice around 1hour every day, combining formal and informal practice to help cultivate the habit and get the expected benefits of mindfulness practice.