The dictionary describes mindfulness as ‘a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and body sensations, used as a therapeutic technique’
Many of us spend a lot of our lives doing things ‘mindlessly’ – on auto pilot. We also spend a lot of time examining our pasts and thinking about our futures and forgetting about the present moment. Mindfulness aims to help people become more aware of their thoughts, feelings and the sensations around them right now. If people are mindful without any self-criticism or judgement and treat themselves with compassion, it has a hugely positive impact on their lives.
If we are mindful we pay attention and see clearly what is happening around us. We know what is going on inside and outside ourselves, moment by moment. It does not take pressures and stresses away but it can help us respond in a calmer way which benefits our head, our body and our hearts. It can help us step away from habitual reactions to everyday events and provides us with clarity, insight and understanding. It allows us to just be present and improves the quality of our lives.
During a mindfulness mediation you will be asked to concentrate your mind on your breath. As you do this you begin to realise that thoughts come and go of their own accord – you realise that they are transient and ultimately you have a choice how you react to them.
Over time mindfulness brings about changes in mood, levels of happiness and well being. Scientific studies have shown that mindfulness positively affects brain patterns that work with anxiety, depression and irritability so that when those moods arise they dissolve again more easily. Studies have also proven that it improves memory, creativity and reaction times become faster too. It is not complex or a religion – it is a method of mental training; a practical way to notice thoughts, physical sensations, sights, sounds, smells – anything which we may not normally notice.
‘Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment and non judgmentally’ JON KABAT-ZINN