Over the last two days I’ve been in Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham and Bristol for Mental Health Awareness Week speaking with employees about understanding stress and how Mindfulness can help to alleviate stress, anxiety and depression. It began with putting into context what the current mental health situation is and led to the practising of two mindfulness sessions.
If I had to sum up in a few sentences my message it would be this: We are facing an unprecedented rise in mental illness, which is largely due to the fast-paced nature of our technological culture. If we can understand how stress works, we begin to appreciate how the millennia old practice of Mindfulness can help, something science is proving. It takes only 5 minutes per day of guided meditation to begin with, with motivation and non-judgemental effort the main ingredients of creating a daily routine.
Here are some other detailed points:
The World Health Organisation predicts that by 2030 depression will be the biggest health problem globally
It is not our fault that mental illness is rising: our brains have not adapted to the massive pace of change in the last 40 years - we still have the same body as our ancestors thousands of years ago therefore we respond to modern non-life threatening irritants (traffic jam) in a similar way to seeing a lion
Persistent, chronic stress leads to a myriad of physical health problems including but not limited to heart disease, cancers, stroke, as well as lowering the immune system
We need to scale up our wisdom to match our technological advancements. Just because we can do something it doesn’t mean we have the wisdom to use it in an optimal way
Mindfulness practice can help to understand the impermanence of thoughts/feelings, creating distance and living in the only time we exist: right now, the present moment
We can train our brains to become less reactive and more insightful for the benefit of our relationship to ourselves and others as self-regulation improves and presence within our own lives
The picture of the geysir in Iceland reflects the nature of mental illness. There are bubblings underneath, increasing signs that something is wrong. Left unaddressed there’s an explosion whether it’s losing our temper with a loved one, yelling at a driver, sending an angry email to a colleague, and eventually becoming unwell in mind/body.
It was very heartening to see people taking an hour out of their busy working day to find out more about Mindfulness. I know there are some sceptics out there, as well as people in the wellness community a bit fed up of hearing the term ‘Mindfulness’, yet the proof is not only in the pudding, but in the 1000s of research papers released every year confirming what long-term meditators know to be true: a sustained mindfulness practice promotes wellbeing and life satisfaction.
Everyday I’m thankful for discovering mindfulness/meditation 9 years ago, and feel so grateful to share from experience how it can help others. It’s a simple practice, not always easy, but definitely worth it. It only takes 5 minutes a day to begin with. To mark Mental Health Awareness Week 2019, I’ve released two 5-minute mindfulness sessions. I recommend that you spend 1-2 weeks with Mindfulness of Sound before moving to Mindfulness of Breathing. I plan in the coming months to widen our Mindfulness offerings through workshops and courses.
Finally, I highly recommend the Insight Timer app - it’s free and has some of the world’s best meditation teachers (Michael Stone, Jack Kornfield, Mark Williams, Kristin Neff).
I wish you a lovely week, and please get in touch if you have any queries regarding the practice of Mindfulness.
Free mindfulness sessions here