Mindfulness is a therapeutic technique where when learnt helps to create a positive state of mind by focussing fully on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting our feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations. Most of the time our attention is not where we intended it to be so mindfulness is a method of being more aware of the present moment inside your mind and your body and at the same time knowing what is happening in the outside world too. This allows us to be more ‘present’ thus reducing stress, anxiety, negative self talk, fear, sadness and experiencing more of what’s happening in the ‘here and now’.
Mindfulness is a technique when learnt that allows you be aware of what is going on inside your mind and body, and what’s going on in the outside world as well. According to Professor Mark Williams (2011), Oxford University ‘Mindfulness’ is a translation of a word that simply means awareness.
Most of the time our attention is not where we intended it to be. As humans we are often “not present” in our own lives. We often fail to notice the good things about our lives, fail to hear what our bodies are telling us, or poison ourselves with toxic self critism.
Human minds are easily distracted, habitually examining past events and trying to anticipate the future. Our attention is hijacked by our thoughts and emotions, by our concerns, by our worries for the future, and our regrets and memories of the past. Mindful awareness is about learning to pay attention, in the present moment, and without judgement. It’s like training a muscle – training attention to be where you want it to be. This reduces our tendency to work on autopilot, allowing us to choose how we respond & react. By learning mindfulness we can have a better relationship with ourselves, reduce stress and anxiety, grow in confidence and belief in ourselves.
Have you ever started eating a snack bar, taken a couple of bites, then noticed all you had left was an empty packet in your hand? Or been driving somewhere and arrived at your destination only to realise you remember nothing about your journey? Most people have! These are common examples of “mindlessness,” or “going on automatic pilot.” In our modern, busy lives, we constantly multi task. Its easy to lose awareness of the present moment as when we become lost in our efforts to juggle work, home, finances, and other conflicting demands.
Mindfulness is a way of paying attention to, and seeing clearly whatever is happening in our lives. It will not eliminate life’s pressures, but it can help us respond to them in a calmer manner that benefits our heart, head, and body. It helps us recognise and step away from habitual, often unconscious emotional and physiological reactions to everyday events. It provides us with a scientifically researched approach to cultivating clarity, insight, and understanding. Practising mindfulness allows us to be fully present in our life and work, and improve our quality of life.
Interest in mindfulness has been growing steadily in recent years. There are now thousands of research studies into the uses of mindfulness, and professionals are using mindfulness in Boardrooms, Schools, Prisons, Court rooms and hospitals across the world.