What is mindfulness?
Very simply, mindfulness is the ability to be awake in the present moment. In our fast-paced society where we habitually rush from one activity to the next, there is little room for reflection and stillness. Mindfulness helps us to become aware in the moment of our automatic habits, thoughts and physical responses; learning to observe our emotions rather than get tangled in them.
Jon Kabat-Zinn, who is often credited for bringing mindfulness to Western society, defines mindfulness as “paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgementally.”
Mindfulness is intrinsically linked to kindness and compassion. When we start to become awake in the present moment we can find ourselves becoming critical of our thoughts and responses. In mindfulness we practice and learn the art of non-judgement and acceptance; we let our thoughts and habitual responses pass with kindly awareness, there is no need to judge them. In this way and with this compassion we start to develop small pieces of freedom. When we continue to practice mindfulness this freedom grows.
While mindfulness originates from the Eastern religion of Buddhism, mindfulness as a technique has been adopted by Western cultures in a way that is not connected to any religion.
Over recent decades there has been a large amount of research conducted into mindfulness. This research has suggested that the benefits from practising mindfulness commonly include:
Lowered stress levels
Increased sense of wellbeing
Lowered levels of anxiety
Increased attention and concentration
Increased physical immunity
For me mindfulness is not simply a technique that I teach, but a meaningful way of life. Mindfulness and Buddhist meditation practices are an essential part of my own life and how I deal with the ups and downs that inevitably come along. Since coming across mindfulness over ten years ago I have seen the powerful impact it has had in my own life, as well as for many of those who I have taught. I have completed intensive Teacher Training in Mindfulness-Based Approaches at the Centre for Mindfulness Research and Practice (CMRP, Bangor University) enabling me to run mindfulness courses and adhere to the UK Mindfulness-Based Teacher Trainer Network good practice guidance for teachers (2001).
As a qualified Clinical Psychologist my teaching and practice is enhanced by in-depth understanding of mental health and stress responses, as well as factors such as wellbeing, recovery and resilience and I teach mindfulness both within the NHS as well as privately.
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