What is Mindfulness?
One of the pioneers of mindfulness in the West, Jon Kabat-Zinn states that:
Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way:
on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.
Mindfulness-based therapy is an integrative, mind-body approach that originated in Eastern meditation practices but is non-religious. It is about developing awareness and paying attention to day to day, moment by moment experiences without our usual judgement – this will include your thinking, how you are feeling and what you are doing. Mindfulness helps you to pay attention to the present moment and develop an awareness of aspects of your life which may otherwise appear to happen automatically - or mindlessly.
Mindfulness is often taught through a variety of structured practices around breathing, thinking, bodily sensations and daily activities. This can help you to discover and become more aware of habitual patterns in your thoughts, your body and your actions.
How can Mindfulness help me?
Mindfulness has rapidly developed an expanding evidence base that shows how helpful it can be for many emotional and physical health problems, as well as improving general well-being and preventing further ill-health.
Mindfulness can help you to develop a better understanding and awareness so you can consider what unhelpful patterns you might have developed. By becoming more aware of thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations you can learn to avoid the same old “mental ruts” that might have caused problems in the past. This can result in less distressing feelings and help you to experience more choice about how to manage and cope with these patterns. Using mindfulness skills can become a way of life and the techniques used in sessions can be applied during everyday life. As a result, you are likely to feel better able to manage stress, handle thoughts and live life more fully. People who practice mindfulness feel they are more able to relax and it can help you to explore those aspects of life you find difficult, rather than pushing them away.
There is a wealth of information and resources available online and as apps. Some of our recommendations for starting points include:
Headspace is a website and app that provides guided meditation sessions and mindfulness training
Insight Timer is the top free meditation app on the Android and iOS stores