What is mindfulness you may ask?
Have you ever driven your car on a long (or even short) journey and when you arrived at your destination realised that you don’t remember much of the drive? Maybe you’ve taken a shower and after getting out, you’re not sure if you washed the conditioner out of your hair. These are examples of mindlessness, of when we are on autopilot. Times when we are not in the present moment experiencing the here and now.
Mindfulness is the practice of being consciously aware of your experience moment to moment. It is the gentle effort to be continuously present with experience. Learning to pay attention to what is occurring in the present moment with openness and without expectation, cultivating an awareness. It’s like anything you do in that it takes practice to become good at it.
One of the best definitions is by Jon Kabat-Zinn, who is internationally known for his work as a scientist, writer, and meditation teacher engaged in bringing mindfulness into the mainstream of medicine and society. He founded the world-renowned Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society and he is also the creator of MBSR – Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction.
“Mindfulness means paying attention in particular way, on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally”.
– Jon Kabat-Zinn
There has been huge growth in the research into mindfulness in recent years. A lot of this research attests to the effectiveness of mindfulness for a range of physical and mental health issues and general well-being.
There are many reputable studies to show that mindfulness is effective in reducing levels of stress, anxiety, depression, anger and worry. People who practise mindfulness on a regular basis have found to be better able to regulate their sense of well-being due to greater emotional awareness, understanding and acceptance.
Extensive research has shown that developing mindfulness has a significant positive effect on:
• Reduces anxiety and depression
• Reduces tension, anger and fatigue
• Enhances relationships
• Improves sleep quality & quantity
• Develops stronger immunity
• Develops greater self-awareness
• Increases ability to manage stress