You might have heard the term ‘mindfulness’. This is related to Relaxation, but they are slightly different things.
Mindfulness is about paying attention to things about yourself and your environment that would normally go unnoticed. Mindfulness allows us to step away from distressing thoughts and feelings which often seem so compelling.
Practising mindfulness is useful in and of itself, not just when you are having difficulties. You can incorporate it into your everyday routines, such as practising mindful walking or mindfully drinking tea or coffee. By consciously using mindfulness in as much of your day as possible, you increase your awareness and enhance your sense of control and choice.
A ‘trap’ for men trying to use mindfulness is feeling pressure to ‘get it right’, or thinking that you ‘just don’t get it’. There will be times when you doubt your ability to practise mindfulness.
Expect that you will become distracted and doubt your ability to ‘do’ mindfulness. This is part of the practice. The idea is to notice such doubtful thoughts and the way that they can take hold, as you practice mindfulness awareness exercises.
Mindfulness exercises can be a struggles at first for men, as it goes against the idea that men are ‘do-ers’, who have been trained to be problem solvers. Learning to notice things without trying to assess them or change can therefore feel difficult. The idea that you should do something will almost certainly occur; the challenge is to simply notice a thought and then to come back to your breath anchor.