"It's fascinating to see the brain's plasticity and that, by practising meditation, we can play an active role in changing the brain and can increase our well-being and quality of life."
Brita Holzel Ph.D. Harvard Medical School
Mindfulness Training Courses
Onlne MBSR Training Course
Who uses Mindfulness? (External links)
Mindfulness in the workplace
Mindfulness in education
Mindfulness in Court rooms and prisons
Medical and theraputic uses of mindfulness
What Research is there?
What Mindfulness isn't
First, Mindfulness is NOT Therapy, Buddhism, Yoga, Hypnotherapy, Visualisation, Religious, Relaxation, Hippy, Boring, about emptying your mind or sitting cross-legged on the floor and it is not complicated. It is not easy either as it does take practice but once you experience it you should want to practice.
What Mindfulness is
According to Jon Kabat-Zinn.....Mindfulness is "Paying attention, in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally' as if your life depended on it." When you're mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to the experience.
Meditation has been around for over 2,500 years and It may not have come to our attention except it was selected for research 40 years ago by American scientist Jon Kabat-Zinn who wanted to research its value in dealing with chronic pain. It is now widely used in hospitals all over the world.
Mindfulness practice helps people experience the richness of everyday life more fully, through learning to be more aware and present. It may help to calm the nervous system, improve mood, bring greater clarity of thinking and enhance immune system function. By practising mindfulness meditation and techniques regularly, this practice is beneficial to all.
It is very common for people to physically be somewhere (such as a job, school, walking, driving), but mentally be somewhere else (thinking about the past, worrying about what needs to be done, daydreaming). Being mindful allows us to become physically and mentally present by fully experiencing what is going on around and inside of us.
The problem with mindfulness is that it’s really hard to not get carried away by our thoughts! Sometimes we are so lost in our own thoughts that we forget to pay attention to what’s going on around us.
What are some ways we can practice being mindful?
Anywhere! You can practice grounding your body and mind in the very moment doing anything, such as (mindful) eating, (mindful) working, and even (mindful) ironing!
A great way to begin practising mindfulness is by walking outdoors. Instead of setting a goal for yourself or a having a purposeful direction, practice staying in the present moment. As you walk, use your senses to pay attention to what you are seeing, hearing, smelling. What sounds can you hear in the distance? Can you taste the air? What does the texture of the ground beneath you feel like? Can you smell the grass? What colours do you see? Even if you’ve taken the same walk many times, perhaps you’ll notice something you haven’t noticed before.
Mindfulness or Meditation?
Meditation is one way to promote mindfulness. When we meditate, we practice focusing on a single object of attention. A very simple, yet effective meditation method is to direct our attention toward our breath. The breath is often the preferred object because it is free, portable, and always available for as long as we will live.
How to Practice Meditation
This exercise teaches basic mindfulness meditation.
- Sit on a straight-backed chair or cross-legged on the floor.
- Focus on an aspect of your breathing, such as the sensations of air flowing into your nostrils and out of your mouth, or your belly rising and falling as you inhale and exhale.
- Once you’ve narrowed your concentration in this way, begin to widen your focus. Become aware of sounds, sensations, and your ideas.
- Embrace and consider each thought or sensation without judging it good or bad. If your mind starts to race, return your focus to your breathing. Then expand your awareness again
Setting aside between 5-10 minutes every day is a great way to start!
Do I have to keep my mind still?
The intention of meditation/mindfulness is not to stop thinking, or to only have positive thoughts. Studies have shown that the more we try not to think about something, the more we think about it (At this moment, I DO NOT want you to think about a pink elephant. Can you do it?) Even the most advanced meditators find their mind wandering occasionally!
A goal of meditation is not to change our thoughts and emotions, but to change the relationship we have with our thoughts and emotions. We will inevitably experience all sorts of thoughts and feelings throughout our day, but meditation teaches us that we don’t have to become too attached to them or automatically react to them. We have the power to control where we put our attention, and we can always redirect our attention to our breath