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For the past twelve years in my Counselling and Psychotherapy practice I have introduced clients to the practice of Mindfulness. I am delighted that it is now recognised as a legitimate therapy in its own right, particularly as a stress-management tool. Mindfulness simply means living in the present moment.

Here are the five easiest ways to begin your Mindfulness practice, thus ensuring you can experience true relaxation instantly.

1) Focus on your breathing:
Your breath is with you 24/7. Therefore you can pay attention to your breathing at any time, day or night. You don't have to do anything special, except to experience your breath in a mindful way. This means observing your breath as it enters and leaves your body. Anytime you feel stressed simply bring your attention back to your breathing and watch how quickly you relax.

2) Change your thinking:
While this may sound difficult it most definitely is not. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) shows us that our thoughts are learned, and anything that is learned can be unlearned. Negative thinking is simply a habit that we reinforce every day by thinking the same thoughts as we did yesterday. This is where Mindfulness is an excellent tool because as we take our attention off our thoughts by being mindful in the present moment, those troublesome thoughts dissolve through a lack of attention.

3) Use the tools from Positive Psychology:
Positive Psychology is a new movement in psychology which investigates happiness, in particular how to be happier by experiencing a state of Flow. This state is simply one in which you are totally absorbed in doing something you really enjoy. Thoughts switch off and you are at one with whatever you are doing. Positive Psychology suggests picking one thing you love to do and notice as you are doing it how much your mood lifts. Positive Psychology is evidence based and is currently used to successfully treat stress, anxiety and even depression.

4) Gratitude and Positive Thinking:
At any moment during the day observe your thoughts and your words. Is what you are thinking or talking about making you feel good or bad? For stress-management if it's making you feel bad simply stop and put your attention elsewhere. Deliberately find something in your life you can be grateful for and put your attention onto that instead. Again, watch how your mood changes instantly.

5) Meditation practice:
Set aside five or ten minutes in the day to simply close your eyes and listen to some relaxation music. It doesn't even have to be a relaxation cd it could just be easy listening music on the radio. Simply observe your thoughts as they float through your mind, and notice how if you don't hold onto them they drift on by. With regular practice this becomes easier and easier.

So don't delay, just pick one of these 5 mindfulness tools and begin your practice today.


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