How present and in the moment do you feel in your life? If the answer is ‘not much’, you may benefit from mindfulness. You’ve no doubt heard of the practice before – a type of meditation that encourages you to be aware of the moment you are in now, allowing you to become more aware of your thoughts (and more able to let them drift by, like leaves on a stream).
Helping countless people cope with stress, anxiety and even depression, mindfulness is becoming a go-to practice for many. Today we are speaking to Suzanne Shenderey who combines mindfulness with her hypnotherapy services to explore how the two work together.
Hi Suzanne, can you start by telling us how you came across mindfulness and how it’s helped you?
I first became interested in mindfulness when I was running a relaxation group and looking for guided meditations to use. I began to read about mindfulness and it felt as though a light bulb had been switched on. I was shocked to realise how much of my life I was spending on autopilot. I recognised that so many of us have similar worries, pressures and anxieties and was impressed by the amount of scientific research behind mindfulness.
The thing that really resonated with me was the use of self compassion – I use this a lot myself and when working with clients. I was so fascinated by mindfulness I began reading more about it and started to practise daily meditation.
I took part in a Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) programme and then undertook teacher training. If you’re a mindfulness teacher, I think it’s vital that you practice mindfulness yourself. I now see one-to-one clients, run mindfulness workshops and programmes and use mindfulness techniques with most of my hypnotherapy clients. I have also trained teachers to use mindfulness in the classroom.
How do you use this within your hypnotherapy work?
Mindfulness can work really well alongside hypnotherapy. Practising meditation can be a big help when it comes to alleviate anxiety. Developing an awareness of one’s thoughts, feelings and behaviours using mindfulness techniques can help to break negative habits and improve self-esteem.
I use breathing exercises in both hypnotherapy and mindfulness. I find children and adults alike respond well to the use of mindfulness techniques.
Why do you think mindfulness and hypnotherapy goes well together?
Hypnotherapy and mindfulness are both ways of empowering people to help themselves. I often use a combination of the two when working with my clients.
In both cases we are rewiring the neural connections that keep us trapped in unhelpful feelings, thoughts and behaviours. Both mindfulness and hypnotherapy enable people to develop new healthy habits for themselves.
How can our readers get started with their own mindfulness practice?
Modern life is stressful and busy. People often feel that they just don’t have time to pause, let alone meditate. There are many misconceptions about mediation, one being that it has to take a long time. Another is that you have to sit cross legged on a cushion chanting.
Whilst it’s true that the more you practise mindfulness techniques, the more benefit you’ll get from them, any practice is beneficial. Even a minute a day is better than nothing. There are lots of short mindfulness practices, from one-minute breathing space meditations, to paying attention while taking your shower in the morning.
Mindfulness can be practised in any situation, for example while walking, doing yoga or writing a gratitude journal. A good way to get started is to use an app like Head Space or Insight Timer. You may like to join an eight-week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) programme or even train as a mindfulness teacher. There are some great books out there too, a good one to start with would be “Mindfulness, Finding Peace in a Frantic World” by Mark Williams.