Mindfulness is a simple, practical tool to help us find calm and stability in the midst of our daily lives. It’s a form of mind training or meditation that has extremely beneficial results.
To quote Jon Kabat-Zinn, mindfulness:
means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.
When we incorporate the kind and non-judgemental aspect of mindfulness into our being it benefits our relationship with ourself and others – right in the midst of our busy, stressful lives. Once we know how to do it, we can do it anytime, any place, anywhere.
Mindfulness is rooted in Eastern spiritual traditions but in more recent years has been adapted into well researched, secular programmes widely available in medical, mental health and wellness settings. These programmes include Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT). See my ‘mindfulness for wellbeing’ page for more details on this.
Mindfulness is the practice of directing attention to what is happening in the present moment in contrast to our more habitual states of mind where we are often preoccupied with memories, fantasies, worries or planning. Although we are often unaware of the current of our thinking, it has a profound effect on how we live our lives, as well on our mental and emotional health.
There is a significant body of research carried out in this area over the last 30 years, and it’s growing exponentially. The good news is that the research indicates that practicing mindfulness regularly helps the body/ mind respond rather than react to stress, leaving valuable resources available for improving our general health and well-being. More here.
Practicing mindfulness helps us to wake up to our lives, to what is happening in this moment, with an attitude of kindness towards ourselves and our experience.
Extensive research has shown that developing mindfulness has a significant positive effect on:
UK’s National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommends mindfulness for the treatment of depression.
See my Testimonials section to find out what local people think of the mindfulness courses they have attended.
Effects of developing mindfulness include:
The best way to get started is to join a class and learn in a group setting from an experienced teacher.
You can read a book and start at home in your own living room. Some books even have helpful CDs with practices, but it is much harder to do it by yourself. Also, sitting with a group just makes it more fun to learn.
If you can’t get to a class, these are some of the books I recommend:
I offer a number of different classes, but the one that is most helpful if you really want to integrate mindfulness into your life is the 8 week programme.
In the 8-week mindfulness course, participants meet together as a class for eight weekly 2 and a half hour classes, plus one all-day session.
The skill of mindfulness is taught through formal and informal mindfulness practices. Formal mindfulness meditation practices include the bodyscan meditation, mindful movement, sitting meditation and the 3-step breathing space. Informal mindfulness meditation practice involves exercises to help you integrate mindfulness into everyday life.
In each class, participants have an opportunity to talk about their experience of the home practices, the obstacles that inevitably arise, and how to deal with them skillfully. Each class is organized around a theme that is explored through mindfulness practice, group inquiry and other relevant exercises.
As mindfulness training is primarily experiential in nature, the main ‘work’ of the course is done at home between classes, using CDs with guided meditations that support participants developing practice outside of class. This requires devoting approximately 40 minutes per day to home practice. In many ways this commitment to daily practice is the most important aspect of the course. It is through personal experiencing of mindfulness that we come to understand the possibilities it opens for us in our daily lives.
Over the eight weeks of the program, the practices help you to:
With the popularity of mindfulness increasing it is important to go a class led by a properly trained and experienced teacher.
I adhere to the Good Practice Guidance for Teaching Mindfulness-Based Courses developed by the U.K. Network of Mindfulness Teachers and to the Ethical Guidelines developed at the University of Massachusetts CFM.
The guidance includes:
Download my Winter Programme for January 2019 (with a free meditation poster) here: Winter programme
Three reasons why mindfulness is a miracle