Mindfulness & meditation

Mindfulness is a mental state where you have a calm, accepting awareness of your body and mind. It has its roots in Buddhist meditation, but by no means does it need to be spiritual: it can be just a way of being aware of, and accepting, your thoughts. There's increasing evidence to suggest that mindfulness is very useful in coping with lots of different problems - like depression, anxiety, pain and addictions.

There are plenty of ways of practicing mindfulness. The usual place to start is by sitting quietly (sitting comfortably in a chair is fine) and trying to concentrate on your breathing, allowing any thoughts that crop up to be noticed, but not to be valued or to be acted upon. Try this just for 5 minutes at a time to begin with, then gradually increase up to 20 minutes as you feel like it. Mindfulness can also be practiced while you're walking, washing up, or mowing the lawn. As you get the hang of it, you can be mindful doing anything.

It's not a quick fix, and it takes practice, but it can have a huge effect on your ability to let go of your negative thoughts and routines. The ultimate goal of mindfulness is freedom, although happiness and relaxation can be welcome side-effects.

Further reading (external sites)

Read more here and here

NY Times article