What is Mindfulness?

What Is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is about becoming aware of what’s happening right now; being present in the moment you are in. This allows us to tune in to the life we are living, so that we know we are living it and can experience it fully, with wise judgement and a sense of kindness and friendliness towards ourselves and our experience.

Life can be busy, stressful and challenging in many different ways. Too often we tend to live our lives ‘in our heads’, worrying about the future, or reliving the past, caught up in daydreams, ruminating or planning. This can create more stress on top of the real pressures of our everyday lives.

But imagine if we could just be with our experience; the good, the bad and the ugly, and fully show up to ourselves with compassion? Truly being present to ourselves no matter what we are facing can have a profound effect on how we live our lives, as well as on our mental and emotional health.

Mindfulness, with practice, offers us a way to be more present and aware in the moments of our lives, as they are unfolding. This practice has been extensively researched over the past 40 years, with many proven benefits found.

The good news is, thankfully, mindfulness is within us all. It is something that we all already have, but it just takes some practice to change very strongly laid habits and routines held in our mind. By practicing mindfulness, we are changing the neural pathways in our brains that we’ve laid throughout our lives and this enables us to live more readily in the moment.

What Mindfulness is not

  • A religion
    I offer a completely non-secular approach to mindfulness.
  • Relaxation
    I cannot promise relaxation, although some calm and peace may be a by-product of mindfulness, but it is not the aim.
  • Awkward postures
    I will not ask you to sit in a cross-legged position (although you may like to!) our practice is open to choice and you can practice it anywhere or any way you like, even on the bus, on a walk or in work.
  • A competition
    There’s no right or wrong way to practice and learn, no winners or losers and we will look at our own tendencies toward self-judgment.
  • Stifling ambition
    Mindfulness is not a means to hinder your goals; on the contrary it helps develop an awareness and compassion that can allows you to approach your goals from a position of greater clarity and wiser judgement.
  • Positive thinking or about only having good feelings
    It does not help us to get rid of unwanted feelings, but rather mindfulness encourages us to actually feel them. With mindfulness we learn to turn towards the difficulties, challenges and pain in our lives, as they are here anyway, but we approach them with an attitude of allowing and kindness as best we can.
  • Forced practice
    It’s a gentle process, it happens gradually as we build emotional strength and resilience.

For an interesting article on common misconceptions around mindfulness please click here 11 common misconceptions of Mindfulness Meditation.


Benefits of Mindfulness

Practising mindfulness has been shown to provide a sense of ease, and serve as a helpful antidote to stress.  Stress can sometimes undermine our health, quality of life and performance. Indeed, the evidence has shown that mindfulness can be an effective aid in the treatment of many mental and physical health issues, as well as generally improving our self-awareness, ability to manage stress/anxiety, relationships, and well-being.

Cultivating a mindfulness practice can help you:

  • Become more aware of how your mind works.
  • Notice the times when you get lost in automatic pilot / over-thinking / old negative patterns that activate downward mood spirals and give you the opportunity to be truly with yourself, in the moment.
  • Practice a different way of being with your day-to-day experience.
  • Become more connected to yourself and your body, helping you become attuned to what is happening in the moment.
  • Wake up to life happening inside of you and all around you, savouring moments instead of ‘being lost in thought’.
  • Develop kindness and compassion for yourself and others and acceptance of yourself just as you are.
  • Let go of the struggle and cultivate attitudes of patience, trust, non-judgement, non-striving, openness, and acceptance.
  • Increase clarity of thought, that allows you to see options and choices in every scenario.

To find out about the scientific research proving the benefits of mindfulness and MBSR specifically click here

 

“Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know.”

Pema Chödrön