What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a form of meditation that makes you more aware of the present moment and your surrounding environment. But more importantly, it helped me to switch off from the pain and stress that came with my brain injury.
Mindfulness had many benefits for me, including helping me to overcome my inability to sleep. It also helped me to de-stress after the day. It gave my brain an opportunity to relax and switch off without having to nap. And it helped me massively when it came to my Episodes.
In Buddhist teachings, mindfulness is utilised to develop self-knowledge and wisdom that gradually lead to what is described as enlightenment or the complete freedom from suffering. So yeah, it’s worth a try isn’t it?
Early on in my recovery mindfulness was recommended to me by my Occupational Therapist at the time. He handed me a CD and said to give it a go. I was to listen to the whole thing, do as it says and try to stay awake for the whole thing. At the time I was struggling to sleep so I thought to myself “Ha, well that’ll be no problem anyway!”
The CD was a guided 45minutes mindfulness meditation. The goal was to stay awake for the whole meditation, to ensure you reach a state of complete relaxation. I would say I made it to about the 11th minute before falling asleep.
I woke up about an hour later feeling like a weight had been lifted from me. Granted, you get the most benefits from it by staying awake but I had fallen asleep within 11 minutes of laying my head on my pillow! This was amazing!
I started practicing mindfulness every evening to settle me for the night ahead. However, I would always fall asleep during the practice. So I would set an alarm to wake me up at around 7.30, get up and do a few bits before I came back to bed to settle in for a good nights sleep, without any issues. My insomnia was gone.
I continued to practice mindfulness, gradually staying awake for more and more of the meditation and I began to discover more and more benefits of it. I would reach a state of complete relaxation. The worries of my brain injury would drift away. And the stress of the day would fade away.
Benefits of Mindfulness
I also reached a point where I could practice mindfulness at any point in my day. I could simply close my eyes and focus on my breathing and a point in my body. It helped me to switch off from the stress and noise going on around me when it all got too much. It helped me to catch my breath when my anxiety would build up inside of me. It would help me to relax when I couldn’t get any words out. It helped to keep me focused when the room was spinning or when my head felt like it was going to explode. I would escape into my mindfulness and it would help my brain to relax and get through whatever it was that was causing me pain or anxiety.
If you want to try mindfulness for yourself try this short Honest Guys Guided Mindfulness Meditation and see what you think. They have loads of great videos on their YouTube channel that you can try. There are loads of guided mindfulness meditations out there, but remember that everyone’s brain is different so there is no one form of mindfulness that fits all! Find the one that suits you the best.
You could also ask your Occupational Therapist if they have any recommendations for you.