…if I don’t mind, it don’t matter? Not quite. Mindfulness is a type of meditation exercise where you pay attention deliberately to what you are doing. People do a lot of things mindlessly – watching TV, eating (while watching TV), exercising (while watching TV).
Television seems to be a common theme among clients that I see. It is nearly always listed as a hobby or interest but a hobby is something we engage in actively. TV does not tend to engage us actively but is something we allow to wash over us while we passively slouch on the sofa.
Being deliberately mindful is a really good tool for coping with a lot of issues that are commonly brought to a consulting room. It is true that focusing exclusively (without the TV) on our food can help us to manage our weight. Savouring the tastes, the textures, noticing the colours, the smells can all help us to stop eating when we are full and to feel fuller quicker.
Mindfulness can also help considerably in managing anxiety and depression. In a study by Oxford University it was found that mindfulness cognitive based therapy could reduce symptoms as effectively as prescription drugs. It also found a 44% reduction in the instances of relapse into depression.
Mindfulness may be as simple as focussing on your breathing for 10 minutes a day. It may be turning off the TV to concentrate on your meal. Perhaps it is noticing every tiny detail on your walk in the countryside. The idea that by fully concentrating our senses on something, we can experience a physical response like a tingling in our spine and a relaxation of our muscles, is a bit of a thing on social media now. It is called ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response) – YouTube it.
Ok so a 10 minute break from the TV may not achieve quite the transformative experience you are looking for. Mindfulness takes practice to get right, so stick at it and you will get better. Like hypnotherapy, mindfulness involves a focussed state of attention and can be both a relaxing and engaging activity that helps create real effective change.