What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is an integrative and holistic mind-body approach to life, that helps us relate effectively to our experiences.
It involves paying attention to thoughts, feelings and body sensations in a way that can increase our awareness, help us manage difficult experiences, and create space for skillful choices.
Mindfulness practice, is the intentional cultivation of moment-to-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations and the surrounding environment.
We all have this ability naturally. Look at a child playing and see how attentive they are; how curious, enraptured, fully engaging in the present moment. As we get older, our tendency is to getting more and more ‘lost’ in the stories in our head or start living habitually in the 'auto -pilot'. This continuous stream of thinking, that we are totally identified with and believe to be ‘real’, makes us overlook and disregard the endless possibilities and power we have for healing, growing, learning and loving in the only moment that we really have to live - the present moment.
Through the practice of mindfulness, individuals can become more aware of their thoughts, feelings and body sensations in the present moment. This observing, non-reactive perspective enables you to consciously respond with clarity and focus, rather than react out of a habitual pattern. It opens up the possibility of working more wisely with difficulties in life and choose what is nourishing to ourselves and others.
You can watch a 10' video clip "What Is Mindfulness" that gives you an overview of what Mindfulness is - including it's history, rationale and scientific benefits - from the founders at the Center for Mindfulness, University of Massachusetts.
The Benefits of Mindfulness
Research has consistently shown that programmes based on mindfulness can help reduce levels of stress, and mindfulness skills are now being used in medicine and mental health as well as in workplaces, schools and other community
Your mind is like any other part of your being. You have benefits from understanding how it works and you can train it to work even better.
Mind Stability - maintaining your mind in an alert clear space rather than at the two extremes of a dull or agitated.
Attention Regulation - the ability to shift your attention to whatever object you choose, rather than having it bounce haphazardly between a number of issues.
Self Awareness - being aware of your thoughts and emotions gives you clarity and understanding of your typical behavioral patterns.
Responding vs. Reacting -
becoming less reactive, e.g. when you are angry and choosing how you will act.