Headway is running its very first mindfulness course for family members of those who have survived a brain injury. We recognise that a brain injury doesn’t affect just one individual but the whole family, and carers often have an enormous amount of strain to bear – their lives have changed irreversibly too.
Mindfulness is the buzz word of the moment – it’s now being practiced in the board room, in schools, in hospitals and universities – but what actually is it?
Mindfulness is often defined as ‘paying attention on purpose moment by moment without judging’. This means developing the ability to focus the attention on our experience from moment to moment.
Becoming more aware of our thoughts, feelings and sensations may not sound like an obviously helpful thing to do, however learning to do this in a way that suspends judgement and self criticism can have surprising results. Many people report finding inner strengths and resources that help them make wiser decisions about their health and life in general.
Easy to say but how do you actually ‘pay attention on purpose moment by moment without judging’? You practice. You sit quietly and watch what is happening within you and around you and when your mind wanders, you practice noticing and bringing your attention back. In this way you train your brain to live in the here and now.
Most of us find ourselves frequently ‘swept away’ by the current of thoughts and feelings, worries, pressures, responsibilities; wanting things to be different from how they are right now. This can be particularly powerful when we are faced with pain, difficulties and illness that confound our attempts to find a solution or to feel better, such as is often the case with our family members. Mindfulness can help us to work directly with the struggle we sometimes have in relating to life’s experience and in doing so can really improve quality of life.
There has been a wealth of empirical evidence showing that a regular mindfulness practice leads to a reduction in stress and anxiety and an increase in emotional and physical well-being.
We are excited to be able to offer this to our family members and truly hope they get as much benefit from it as possible.