I frequently incorporate mindfulness in mental health practice. It’s something I’ve practiced long before I knew it had a name or a “scientific” action. I am quite an advocate of using mindfulness since it is essentially using our senses, which makes sense.
The Mindful Myth
There is a negative opinion many have towards it, whether because pictures make it seem associated with either hippies or specific religious activities. Another reason is likely do to its association with the phrase “coping skills” of which many have come to grow tired of. People usually list deep breathing and music as their primary coping skills, when I ask.
However, I believe the biggest problem is the approach to using it. In the video shared above, I discuss the value of mindfulness and the ways in which I make it less a chore and certainly more joyful an experience. I am a believe that we cannot feel joy 100% of our time, but I also understand that many have enough joy sucking life situations where they are only going to try a new habit if it might bring some type of relief immediately.
Mindfulness & Flow
I called the opposite of mindfulness, mindlessness. There in fact does exist another term called FLOW which is a better description of mindlessness (Csikszentmihalyi, 1991). The two mental states compliment each other and exist in opposite ends of your attention spectrum (Reid, 2011). Mindfulness is essentially your willful, intentional effort to be aware of your present experience through your senses. FLOW is a state in which you’re not trying to be intentionally engaged in something, you just are without trying, immersed in the action as some call “being in the zone.”
Life is a roller coaster so the saying goes. Maybe we can’t change that, but zoning everything out to get to the end of the ride is a waste of a ticket. Both of these mental states, mindfulness and Flow, are to prevent you from feeling fully out control of your experience of everyday life (Bakker & Moulding, 2012). That is, you may not be able to stop a traffic jam on the way home from work, but there are ways to not be irritated by it for the rest of your night.
The Mental Health Benefits
Mindfulness has been shown to support pain, depression symptoms, and quality of life (Hilton et al, 2017). I believe certain activities can be far more enjoyable to experience mindfulness with than others when first trying, if you’re the practical type. Engaging in hands-on activities are a good place to start, such as Legos (Barry & Meisiek, 2010; Csikszentmihalyi, 1996). As with any skill, mindfulness does not have to be a grueling hour practice every day, ten minutes daily works just fine for children and can for you too (Nadler et al., 2017).
For types of mindfulness exercises, resources, ideas on how to make mindfulness more fun, and incorporate into your routine, watch the short video above.
If you are curious about what other types of groups topics I practice for mental health, read the article found in the link below.
Bakker, K., & Moulding, R. (2012). Sensory-processing sensitivity, dispositional mindfulness and negative psychological symptoms. Personality and Individual Differences, 53(3), 341-346.
Barry, D., & Meisiek, S. (2010). Seeing more and seeing differently: Sensemaking, mindfulness, and the workarts. Organization Studies, 31(11), 1505-1530.
Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1991). Flow: The psychology of optimal experience. Harper Perennial: New York, NY
Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1996). Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention. Harper Perennial: New York, NY
Hilton, L., Hempel, S., Ewing, B. A., Apaydin, E., Xenakis, L., Newberry, S., … & Maglione, M. A. (2017). Mindfulness meditation for chronic pain: systematic review and meta-analysis. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 51(2), 199-213.
Nadler, R., Cordy, M., Stengel, J., Segal, Z. V., & Hayden, E. P. (2017). A brief mindfulness practice increases self-reported calmness in young children: A pilot study. Mindfulness, 1-8
Reid, D. (2011). Mindfulness and flow in occupational engagement: Presence in doing. Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy, 78(1), 50-56.