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  • The practice of paying attention to whatever is happening in the present moment
  • Turning towards whatever is going on with interest and curiosity
  • Learning new ways of being with our experience rather than turning away form it
  • Learning to stay with our experience no matter how difficult or upsetting that may be
  • Settling into who we really are with interest
  • Like an objective observer – an impartial witness to our experience

 


  • A relaxation technique
  • A religious practice
  • A way to avoid difficulty
  • A way to achieve an altered state of consciousness

 

Mindfulness is the direct opposite to taking life for granted. It is not something strange, nor is it attached to any belief system. It is about being yourself and developing a better understanding of who you really are.
Mindfulness allows us to see what is really present in our lives, to become aware of the things that cause stress and suffering for us. By paying attention we can begin to see that much of our stress and difficulty arises from wishing that things were other than they are, and not allowing things to be as they are. We constantly try to tweak life to make it better, and this becomes an endless process that in itself brings further stress. Moving towards a greater acceptance for life as it is, in fact, brings more peace to the mind and ease to the body. Mindfulness helps us to see our challenges and to learn to relate differently to them. With greater awareness we develop confidence to turn towards difficulties with an interest in what is going on, a curiosity about it, rather than the usual avoidance of anything unpleasant that arises in our experience.

 

 

Mindfulness allows us to slow down enough to see the beauty all around us, to get in touch with and enjoy the ordinary things in life rather than thinking that it is the extraordinary that will bring greater happiness and ease.
When we have a diminished awareness of the present moment, it creates problems for us through automatic reactions and behaviours often driven by fears and insecurities. Operating without awareness, gives the mind the chance to run on well - worn tracks of negativity without being noticed. One word or a memory can trigger something in our thoughts, and very quickly the mind can start to embellish this, reinforce it, and before long, we experience anxiety, worry, stress or depression. Fragments of negative thinking are less likely to be noticed when in auto- pilot, and if unchecked they may coalesce into stronger patterns of negativity which can manifest as anxiety and depression.
Mindfulness allows us to penetrate the fog that we often live in and expose some of the richer qualities that are buried beneath the surface like compassion, kindness, generosity and trust.

 

History of Mindfulness

The practice of Mindfulness goes back 2500 years. It has been practiced by people for thousands of years and its value has been well documented. The Buddha was perhaps the first to explore the benefits of being mindful, and many of today’s meditation practices have their roots in Buddhist wisdom.


Today Mindfulness is being introduced into many areas of healthcare, education and disciplines that encourage self - reflection. From ancient India to today, Mindfulness has been drawn like a thread through the ages and its value is still intact.
There are specific applications of Mindfulness that have been researched and developed by leading health care specialists - Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT). The practice of Mindfulness has also been incorporated into Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT).


Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction was developed over 30 years ago by Dr Jon Kabat Zinn in the University of Massachusetts in USA. The MBSR programme was originally designed to help people suffering from stress and stress related disorders, and it is now seen to be equally useful for a range of conditions including anxiety, fear, pain, depression,cancer care and eating disorders. Kabat - Zinn skilfully created a curriculum that incorporates Eastern meditation practices in a way that is useful and accessible to Western medical patients.


Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy was more recently developed through the research and work of Zindal Segal, Mark Williams and John Teasdale. All three work in the field of Clinical Psychology/ Brain Science/ Cognitive Behaviour, and have developed the programme specifically for helping those with depression. The research available is very encouraging and the use of MBCT in the treatment of depression is becoming wide spread.

 

 
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