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What is Mindfulness?

If we don’t pay attention to the world inside us and the world around us, we can miss the most beautiful and significant moments of our lives.

Mindfulness means living our life to the full. It is an awareness developed by paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgementally.

Mindfulness is about choosing to be present, awake and aware. We develop this ability by intentionally bringing our attention back to the present moment.

When we are in the present moment, that is mindfulness. Wandering off into past or future and following our thought stories is the opposite of being present.

Practising mindfulness and living mindfully means being open to all experiences as they are, rather than wishing for things to be different, hiding from our life’s challenges or blindly clinging to pleasure.

Practising mindfulness is much more than being able to notice things around us. It is a way of life, a particular way of being, characterised by curiosity, bravery, gentleness and a sense of humour.

Find Out here What Mindfulness is NOT.

It all started with Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction

Training the mind in order to enhance its inherent qualities of awareness and wisdom are not a new concept. The practices of mindfulness  have been part of Buddhist culture for many thousands of years and have been passed on from teacher to student in the form of uninterrupted lineages.

The mindfulness practice found its way into mainstream Western society through the work of Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn. In 1979, he developed the Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR) programme at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, which was aimed at helping patients suffering from chronic disease, chronic pain and stress find a way of coping with their difficult situation. Since then, mindfulness has proved to be very effective for alleviating the effects of physical and psychological distress.

We Know It Works!

There have been numerous studies confirming the transformative power of mindfulness, including its ability to change the patterns of brain activity associated with negative emotions. Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) is now recommended by the British National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) as an effective treatment for patients that have suffered from three or more major episodes of depression.

Studies of brain function have shown that we all tend to build ‘stories’ out of our everyday ‘momentary’ experiences. Using brain imaging techniques, it has been shown that certain brain areas light up when we are thinking in this ‘story’ way. Unfortunately these ‘stories’ can easily become infected by our sad or anxious moods. This then means that the stories we tell about ourselves become self-denigrating, or fearful. Scientific studies of the brain before and after taking part in an eight-week mindfulness course show that, after mindfulness training, people are much better able to focus on moment by moment experience, and are far less prone to getting caught up in the stories.