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Article: Attentive presence for better stress management?

La présence attentive pour une meilleure gestion du stress ?

Attentive presence for better stress management?

We often hear about it in the media, schools, yoga centers, and so on: attentive presence, also called full consciousness or mindfulness , has been popular in recent years. Consisting of paying attention to an object of concentration (breathing, bodily sensations, etc.) in the present moment and without judgment, its popularity has grown exponentially in recent years. It is sometimes sold as a quick solution for all kinds of physical or psychological ailments. However, what does the most recent research say about the practice of attentive presence to better manage stress?
  • Said like this, the practice of attentive presence can seem like a magical solution to all our problems! However, practicing mindful presence is sometimes difficult. If we go into it with the idea of ​​“performing”, or “achieving objectives”, it is possible that it becomes a more stressful practice than a relaxing one. Indeed, when we exercise, it is normal to have thoughts or feelings that distract us from our object of concentration. We must therefore abandon the idea that practicing mindful presence 1) will be easy, 2) must resemble the image we have of it – often an experience of bliss without any distraction and 3) will achieve goals simplistic (improving your productivity at work, for example). First and foremost, the practice of mindful presence is a lifestyle, a holistic process. It is therefore more on this process that we must pay attention, by appreciating the moments that we offer ourselves to practice for ourselves, rather than by keeping in mind a benefit that we wish to obtain from it.
  • Some people, at certain times in their lives, or even throughout their lives, do not experience positive effects linked to the practice of attentive presence. This strategy may not work, and that does not make a person at fault or inferior. As said previously, attentive presence also involves practicing not judging what you observe, and that includes yourself. If we feel guilty or ashamed of not benefiting from practicing attentive presence, or of not enjoying practicing it, we are moving away from the very nature of this practice.
  • Various life experiences can make it more difficult to practice mindfulness, which can compromise its potential to reduce stress. Sometimes, some people find it anxiety-provoking to focus on their breathing, or on the sensations observed in certain areas of the body. If this is the case, it may be possible to choose a safe focus object; it can even be what we observe with our senses (listening to ambient noises, looking at the environment around you, etc.).
If you have any questions or concerns about your practice of attentive presence, it is always recommended to rely on specialists who have an informed and critical view of the phenomenon.

Author: Éliane Dussault

Photo: Ariane Vermeersch

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