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Mindfulness Is About Embracing Thoughts, Not Stopping Them

We think about a lot of things throughout the day. From the minute our brain wakes up, sometimes before we open our eyes, our minds are off to the races trying to get to the end of an endless track. How many of our thoughts are we aware of? We don’t intentionally think a lot of things which our brain is taking into special consideration. For example, breathing, or our pumping heart. We wouldn’t be able to contemplate last night’s movie on television, our to-do list for the day, or- if we are struggling with drug and alcohol addiction- when we will get our next fix, if we had to think about every heartbeat, every expansion of our lungs, and every moment of our every muscle. Our awareness isn’t sharp, which is why we can feel overwhelmed by our thoughts. Once we become aware of our thoughts and notice just what it is we pay so much attention to, we can begin to change the way we think. This is the foundation of mindfulness.

Mindfulness is a spiritual practice as well as a scientific practice. Brain imaging studies have found mindfulness to promote the growth of gray matter in the brain, reduce the risk of dementia, and alleviate the troublesome symptoms of depression, anxiety, detox from drugs and alcohol, in addition to stress. All mindfulness requires is noticing. Noticing our thoughts, where our thoughts come from, and how different it might be if we were to change those thoughts, is the practice of mindfulness.

We are often surprised by the thoughts we discover. Anxious by the thought of our thoughts, we try to stop them. Our thoughts are chemical signals, firing at lightspeed from one area of our brain to the next. Like a highly efficient traffic system, our thoughts can’t just be stopped. There are some disciplines of meditation, which is separate from mindfulness, though intimately connected, which advocates “no mind” or a completely empty mind in which there is no traffic. Mindfulness, on the other hand, simply asks us to observe the traffic and make peace with the fact that the traffic is there. Rather than try to stop, analyze, fix, change, or judge every single thought, through mindfulness practice we embrace the thoughts as they are and separate our minds from our thinking. As we sit and focus on our breathing, one form of mindfulness practice, we take ourselves out of the thought-traffic road rage and place ourselves on a peaceful hill above it.


Our focus at Castle Craig Private Hospital is growth of spirituality. Through a holistic approach to treatment, each of our clients leave in optimum health of mind, body, and spirit with a renewed sense of purpose and meaning in life. Welcoming all in need of treatment, our program is open to addictions and concurrent mental health disorders. Call us today for information on our residential services and programmes. You can reach our 24 hour free confidential phone-line at 0808 231 5861.

Page last reviewed and clinically fact-checked | July 14, 2017