What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a form of attention and awareness training that helps people relate more effectively to their experiences. It involves paying attention to body sensations, feelings and thoughts in a way that increases awareness, acceptance and self-compassion to help manage difficult experiences, and create space to make wise choices. It is 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.
"Mindfulness is the awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose in the present moment and non-judgmentally to things as they are." ~ Jon Kabat-Zinn
In contrast, you’ve probably encountered moments of “mindlessness” — a loss of awareness resulting in forgetfulness, separation from self, and a sense of living mechanically. Restoring within yourself a balanced sense of health and well being requires increased awareness of all aspects of self, including body and mind, heart and soul. Mindfulness-based stress reduction is intended to ignite this inner capacity and infuse your life with awareness.
Reawakening to what you already are...
Fortunately, mindfulness is not something that you have to “get” or acquire. It is already within you — a deep internal resource available and patiently waiting to be released and used in the service of learning, growing, and healing. People participate for reasons as diverse as...
- Stress — job, family or financial
- Chronic pain and illness
- Anxiety, panic and depression.
- GI distress
- Sleep disturbances
- High blood pressure
Many people attend because, although they are feeling well physically, they say the pace of their lives is “out of control” or they’re “just not feeling quite right.” They are sent by their doctors or they are self-referred.
What Mindfulness is Not!
Despite these proven benefits, however, many people are still a little wary when they hear the word ‘meditation’. So before we proceed, it might be helpful to dispel some myths:
• Mindfulness is not a religion. Although Mindfulness has been practised by Buddhists for over 2,500 years. Mindfulness is simply a method of mental training and can be practised as part of any religion or not.
• You don’t have to sit cross-legged on the floor (like the pictures you may have seen in magazines or on TV), but you can if you want to. Most people who come to our classes sit on chairs to meditate, but you can also practise bringing mindful awareness to whatever you are doing, on buses, trains or while walking to work. You can meditate more or less anywhere.
• Mindfulness practice does not take a lot of time, although some patience and persistence are required. Many people soon find that meditation liberates them from the pressures of time, so they have more of it to spend on other things.
• Meditation is not complicated. Nor is it about ‘success’ or ‘failure’. Even when meditation feels difficult, you’ll have learned something valuable about the workings of the mind and thus have benefited psychologically.
• It will not deaden your mind or prevent you from striving towards important career or lifestyle goals; nor will it trick you into falsely adopting a Pollyanna attitude to life. Meditation is not about accepting the unacceptable. It is about seeing the world with greater clarity so that you can take wiser and more considered action to change those things which need to be changed. Meditation helps cultivate a deep and compassion- ate awareness that allows you to assess your goals and find the optimum path towards realising your deepest values.
What is Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction?
MBSR is an 8 week course developed by Jon KabatZinn at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center in the USA that has been used over thirty years to help with pain, depression, anxiety and to create mental balance and well-being.