What is Mindfulness?
“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.” - Dr Jon Kabat-Zinn, 1994
Mindfulness is the ability to objectively recognise what is happening in our thoughts, emotions and bodies in the present moment – as they are occurring – without immediately reacting to them and trying to fix, change, judge or avoid them.
Being 'mindful' can be learned and (like most things!) becomes easier with practice. It is a technique based on Buddhist meditation practices called Vipassana, that has in more recent years been heavily researched and acknowledgd for it's health benefits. As such, it is not uncommon to now find mindfulness practices being integrated into a number of psychologically-based therapies (e.g. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or CBT) to enhance their efficacy.
Practicing being more mindful leads to a heightened state of sensory awareness - you become, over time, more aware of the activity of both your mind and body and how they are connected. When you are mindful, you are less likely to impulsively ‘react’; instead, you consciously ‘respond’ to life’s events as they arise.
One can begin to develop an unconditional acceptance of the present moment and create space between thoughts and reality. Practitioners describe benefits such as better emotional regulation and sharpness of mind.
Practicing mindfulness-based meditation techniques leads to a reduction of the impact that stress or 'busy-ness' has on both physical and mental wellbeing. Activating the mind-body link has attracted a great deal of research interest in recent years, and has been shown to be beneficial for a number of health imbalances including general tension, anxiety, chronic pain, fatigue, sleep disturbances and some gastrointestinal conditions, amongst others.