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Anyone compiling a list of trends in the second half of this decade would surely have to put mindfulness on the list. Try an Amazon search on the technique – which involves a deliberate effort to focus one’s attention in the present moment – and the result is more than 10,000 results, from books to flash cards to apps.
What is important to note, however, is that this explosion of population interest has been mirrored – or perhaps fuelled – by burgeoning scientific focus. A 2017 paper in the Annual Review of Psychology found there was just one randomised controlled trial published on mindfulness between 1995 and 1997. For the 2013 to 2015 period, that figure stood at 216.
While the quality of studies does vary, there is now growing evidence that the technique can reduce stress and also constitute a helpful method of addressing clinically diagnosed anxiety and depression.
Like any technique, mindfulness requires practice to do well. But it does not need to take huge amounts of time. An easy way to get started and get a sense of whether it might work for you can be to really pay attention to the here and now. It can be helpful to imagine yourself as an alien, seeing everything for the first time.
Take a moment before you walk through the practice door. Focus on, for instance, the colour of the trees, the way the air moves through them and past you, the sounds around you and the smells in the air. With any luck you’ll suddenly be out of your head and away from your to do list, into your current environment, and will enter the practice in a much calmer state of mind.
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