What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness can be defined as intentionally bringing awareness to the present moment in a non-judgmental way.
It is more than a technique: it's a different way to live. It is a way of learning to relate directly to whatever is happening in your life, a way of taking charge of your life, a way of doing something for yourself that no one else can do for you — consciously and systematically working with your own stress, anxiety, pain, illness, and the challenges and demands of everyday life. The opposite is "mindlessness", and we have all probably encountered moments of lack of awareness resulting in forgetfulness, separation from self, and a sense of living mechanically.
Mindfulness is a way of developing a skill we already have. A capacity to contact a sense of calm and clarity, even if things are difficult. Restoring a sense of health and well being. Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is intended to ignite this inner capacity and infuse your life with awareness.
This skill is developed through engaging with systematic training in regular meditation practices, and also bringing mindful awareness and acceptance into daily life and work. Mindfulness promotes a way of being that helps us take care of ourselves and live healthier lives. It can help access powerful inner resources for coping effectively with stress, difficulty and illness.
Mindfulness is based on meditation practices from ancient spiritual traditions, but is universal in nature. Contemporary training in mindfulness gives participants the opportunity to learn and apply these practices and principles in entirely secular ways. There is now considerable neuroscientific evidence and studies which show how our brains are influenced by mindfulness practice and how this promotes better health and well being.
Mindfulness can help us all to :
- Pay attention to our experience as it unfolds, moment by moment, thereby appreciating 'this' moment fully.
- Pay attention with an open, curious, enquiring, non-judgemental, accepting, compassionate mind.
- Stop ruminating about what has happened or worrying about what might happen, instead being present in this moment.
- Respond rather than react skillfully to whatever is happening right now, be that good or bad.
- Enhance our: well-being, performance, resilience, patience, self-confidence,relationships, parenting,health and happiness.
"You can't stop the waves, but you can learn to surf" (Jon Kabat-Zinn)
What Mindfulness isn't ..
A common misunderstanding about Mindfulness results from the use of the word 'acceptance'. In a Mindfulness context this does not mean resignation in the face of what is happening. "It simply means a clear acknowledgement that what is happening is happening. Acceptance does NOT tell you what to do. What happens next, what you choose to do, comes from your understanding of the moment" (Jon Kabat-Zinn)
Mindfulness is also not a relaxation technique, although many people do find it relaxing. It is not therapy.