What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness means paying attention to what’s happening
in the present moment in the mind, body and external
environment, with an attitude of curiosity and kindness.
It is typically cultivated by a range of simple meditation
practices, which aim to bring a greater awareness of
thinking, feeling and behaviour patterns, and to develop
the capacity to manage these with greater skill and
This is found to lead to an expansion of
choice and capacity in how to meet and respond to life’s
challenges, and therefore live with greater wellbeing,
mental clarity and care for yourself and others.
Typically mindfulness practice involves sitting with your
feet planted on the floor and the spine upright. The eyes
can be closed or rest a few feet in front while the hands
are in the lap or on the knees. The attention is gently
brought to rest on the sensations of the body - the
feet on the floor, the pressure on the seat and the air
passing through the nostrils.
As the thoughts continue,you return again and again to these physical sensations, gently encouraging the mind not to get caught up in the thought processes but to observe their passage.
The development of curiosity, acceptance and compassion in the process of patiently bringing the mind back is what
differentiates mindfulness from simple attention training.
This practice can be held for a few moments as a
breathing pause in the middle of a busy day, or for half
an hour in a quiet place first thing in the morning.
Research shows that regularly practiced Mindfulness Meditation allows people to develop healthier, more compassionate responses to their own experience, as well as to events in their lives and the people around them.
Where does mindfulness come from?
Methods for training mindfulness have long been central to the contemplative traditions of Asia, especially Buddhism.
Using these methods, but freeing them from any religious or dogmatic content, Jon Kabat-Zinn began teaching his Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction course (MBSR) to patients at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center in the late 1970s.
Participants were introduced to a range of core mindfulness practices: sitting meditation, body-scanning,mindful movement exercises and as a way to help them manage the pain and stress of their medical conditions. They were also asked to commit to a daily practice using audio guides at home.
The British equivalent of MBSR training has been created by prof. Rob Narin, and its called Mindfulness Based Living course. The emphasis of MBSR training its on the instant application to daily circumstance with compassionate attitude toward our own experience.