Mindfulness for Men
The following Health Promotion Initiative has been created by Public Health students from LaTrobe University, in collaboration with LTU's Public Health Student Association, LTU's Mens Mental Health and Wellbeing department and LTU's Student Health and Wellbeing team. The objective of this program is to deliver educational resources on mindfulness and introductory techniques that we believe may reduce the impacts of adverse mental health. Although aimed at men and male identifying students, the strategies on this page are applicable to everyone!
Men’s Mental Health; A brief introduction
Often our minds can be cluttered and we can feel overwhelmed by stress or anxiety. According to the Department of Health (2019) and Blackdog Institute, 1 in 5 (20%) Australians experience mental health challenges in any year, with roughly 50% experiencing mental illness in their lifetime. Perhaps your mental health keeps you from reaching your potential at work or on the court, a healthy sleep pattern or from social outings.
There are many health services designed to help you deal with those negative feelings and express them. We understand that men often find it challenging to seek support, especially from health professionals. This can undermine treatments aimed at early intervention and health promotion, often resulting in negative consequences. Not just for the individual, but also the community.
Men and boys are indirect consumers of healthcare services, preferring to turn to friends and partners for health advice. Research from BeyondBlue (2016) shows that knowledge of mental health and its symptoms is higher in females than males, yet death by suicide is three times more common in males (Andrology Australia, 2018). We believe this information deserves more attention.
Okay, but what is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a mental and physical technique you can use to focus on the present moment and it can be practiced anywhere. Mindfulness is the ability to recognise and understand the thoughts and feelings within you at any given time, remaining anchored in the present moment and not being carried away by those thoughts and feelings. Learning how to respond wisely to events that happen to you, rather than simply reacting. Mindfulness can help you to understand the inner-workings of your mind and to focus on your daily grind.
Mindfulness can improve performance
Athletes and public figures from all over the world, and from all disciplines use mindfulness to achieve peak performance. It is reportedly used by Novak Djokovic and George Lucas.
George Mumford, now an established mindfulness coach in the NBA, brought the practice of mindfulness to NBA champion Michael Jordan after he was struggling with the passing of his father.
"I meditate every day and I usually do it for ten or fifteen minutes in the morning, as that prepares me to face whatever comes next" - Kobe Bryant says in an interview with Oprah Winfrey, who is also a mindfulness advocate herself.
The basics of mindfulness practice
- Set aside some time. You do not require a special place, equipment or incense burners. But you do need to set aside some time and space.
- Observe the present moment. We are not trying to quiet our mind, but to focus on the present moment, without bias. Focus on your senses, smells, sounds, touch. Don’t analyse them, just notice.
- Let your judgments roll by. When judgments appear in our mind, note them and then let them pass. Thoughts will come and go, keep your awareness on your senses.
- Returning to observing the moment. We often get carried away in thought. If your attention wanders, that’s okay. Noticing is progress. Mindfulness is the act of returning to your focus.
- Patience. It may seem hard at first, to not become distracted. But practicing for just a couple of minutes each day will help to improve your mindfulness muscle.
- Practice. 5 minutes of quality mindfulness is better than attempting to make it happen all the time. Find the right amount for you, it will become more satisfying as you improve.
Formal mindfulness requires dedicated time out from daily tasks, it is associated with meditation. There are thousands of videos and apps that will introduce you to and guide you through meditation, from 5 minutes to 50 minutes, that you can benefit from at school, in the workplace, in transit and in the home. Here’s one to get you started!
With some practice, you can perform mindfulness anywhere, any time. Such as studying, painting, sewing, cleaning and even competing. Eventually, these tasks will become mindfulness activities for yourself. Just take it one task at a time.
Here are a few apps for mindfulness and meditation worth checking out:
But it’s not just apps, there is a wealth of knowledge on mindfulness to be consumed through text, podcasts, websites and videos. Find what relates best to you.
Join La Trobe alumna and psychologist Cassandra Scicluna (Master of Counselling Psychology, 2015) for a three minute meditation, focused on the calming Nangak Tamboree waterway at La Trobe's Bundoora Campus.
This all looks good, but where’s the proof?
Specialist have been using mindfulness in therapies such as Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR) & Mindfulness-based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (MCBT) since the ‘70’s!
This study suggests meditation to be more beneficial than a vacation.
If you’re not convinced but want to explore more for yourself, try to find some respected health professionals discussing their thoughts on mindfulness. We have provided several credible organisations at the bottom of this page to get you started.
In the following clip, adult ADHD and Couples Counselling Specialist Phil Boissiere discusses his 3x3 Method for mindfulness and how it can be incorporated into any routine.
Does mindfulness have any real-world applications?
There is no end to the potential of mindfulness. It can help you to focus on monotonous tasks, or to focus your breathing before that big presentation. It can help you to remain attentive and aware through slow lectures. It can increase your stamina and endurance, or help you sleep. There are many benefits of mindfulness that can be applied to any part of life. The choice is yours.
Mindfulness isn’t a solve-all, or an escape from reality
Mindfulness is a stepping stone to reducing stigmas and is a gateway for further self-help and help-seeking behaviours. But it’s more than just meditation and stress reduction. Mindfulness boosts creativity, memory and attention span. It strengthens neural connections, boosting concentration and awareness. It is a chance for us to begin to educate ourselves on emotions and to better recognise ‘the blues’.
Limitations of mindfulness
There is some indication that individuals who display symptoms of psychosis should be cautious with meditation. Whilst many benefit from mindfulness meditation, in rare cases it can make individuals feel worse. If this is the case, stop.
If you are interested in mindfulness and would like to know more, outside of the resources provided here, please discuss with your GP, therapist or a qualified health professional.
Internal and external support
- Book a free appointment with La Trobe's dedicated Men's Wellbeing Counsellor, or find out how La Trobe's Men's Wellbeing Program can help you.
- Book a free appointment with any of La Trobes counsellors, or request a call-back for a general Wellbeing check-in.
- If you have any safety concerns or issues around unacceptable behaviour face-to-face or online, please contact our Speak Up team.
- Please also be aware that the after-hours support service is also available by calling 1300 146 307 or text 0488 884 100. This service operates 5pm – 9am on weekdays and 24 hours during weekends and public holidays.
If speaking to someone about this is something you may find difficult, we have gathered a short list of 5 star organisations designed to be consumed in the comfort of your own home, on-line, or over the phone.
Discount on Headspace and page survey
Thanks to Headspace™, we have the opportunity to offer you 40% off their yearly subscription. Their app is a fantastic way to begin your mindfulness and meditation journey, feel free to use their free trial to see if it’s for you.
Complete our short survey below, it shouldn’t take you longer than 60 seconds, and we will email you the discount code. We hope you learned something and wish you the best with your mindfulness journey!