What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is our capacity to attend to the present moment. Most of the time we live our lives in our mind; planning for or worrying about the future and remembering the past, good times and bad (usually bad!). Even when we are in the present moment we can be caught up in our expectations and judgements about it, so we end up thinking about the present moment rather than just being in it. This lack of mindfulness can result in many problems including dissatisfaction with life, stress, fatigue and being unable to sit down for long.

Fortunately mindfulness can be trained and improved.  There is a growing amount of evidence to show that this training can help in the reduction of symptoms of mental health problems and improve our wellbeing, relationships and even our immune system. 

We have invested a lot of time and energy in creating our habit for distraction and this doesn’t just change because we want it to. People also often find that when they become aware of the present moment there is lots of stuff there that they don’t like e.g. aches and pains, unpleasant emotions and boredom. Another aspect of mindfulness is changing how we relate to these things. We would generally get away from them as quickly as possible by turning on the TV, phoning a friend or having a drink. In mindfulness we work on being open to whatever arises in our experience and over time this can have a radical effect on how we deal with difficulties in our life and even change how our brains work in stressful situations.

Mindfulness is a modern adaptation of meditation from Buddhism. It is being delivered in a completely secular way so you don’t have to be religious. It is practised through mediation exercises while sitting, lying and walking. The practice is in directing our attention to specific parts of the experience such as breathing, or body sensations and returning to them when we get distracted. Sounds easy? It isn’t!!