Living purposefully and intentionally, moment to moment can seem tricky when there’s so much going on around you, particularly when your world has changed significantly as a new parent.
But the practice of mindfulness can help to take a break from the busy-ness of life and to quiet your mind by becoming more aware of the present moment. Better yet, it can be filtered throughout your day, rather than taking time out of it. We sat down and spoke with Paola, the Senior Social Worker at Epworth Clinic to talk all things mindfulness.
What is mindfulness?
That’s a great question. It has been defined as being focused, on purpose, intentionally and non-judgementally moment to moment.
In today’s life, we are, what we call, always in doing mode. We’re jumping from one task to the next - changing nappies, breastfeeding, cleaning, working, going to the supermarket, pharmacy… And the list goes on.
Doing mode is when we’re always rushing into doing things, running around, always doing something. We do these things very much, what we call, mindlessly. A lot of us will probably relate to this as to situations like where we don’t know where we put our car keys, or we’ve left them somewhere where we can’t remember because we were not paying attention to where we actually left them in the first place. Mindfulness is about paying attention on purpose every time that you do something.
What we’re seeing is that there are a lot of benefits to mindfulness.
For people with depression and anxiety, what we were finding is that a lot of people tend to ruminate or go into doing mode, and then that creates the anxiety, and that anxiety itself becomes another issue, and then people get depressed and relapse. It’s about how to introduce a way to them that really looks at how to bring the mindfulness into their lives. It needs to be practised, with persistence and patience.
But practising mindfulness doesn’t necessarily mean putting aside time in your day to sit and be with your thoughts - something that can seem like a stretch as a new parent. It can be as simple as really noticing the things around you when you’re going for a walk - what colour is that house you walk past every day? Are the trees flowering or bare? What’s the closest sound you can hear? What about the furthest?
A lot of people get into mindfulness and think “oh I want to stop my thoughts” or “my thoughts are racing
“It’s not that your thoughts are racing, or about stopping your thoughts, what’s happening is when we practice mindfulness we are becoming more increasingly aware.”
It’s about becoming increasingly more aware of what thoughts are coming through and letting them pass by, and then re-attending and re-focusing our attention and focus into what we’re doing or, into our breath. It changes the relationship we have with thoughts and engenders kindness and compassion and shifts people away from their emotions at that time.
Epworth Clinic in Camberwell offers a range of therapeutic day programs that integrate social work, psychology, dietetics, exercise physiology and general practice.