What is Mindfulness?

‘Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.’ Jon Kabat-Zinn

Mindfulness meditation is a simple secular meditation practice which can help regular practitioners identify the body’s stress reactions. By bringing attention to the feelings in the body and the thought processes of the mind, mindfulness practitioners can choose to respond rather than react. Mindfulness meditation is often used alongside habit busters, which encourage practitioners to try something new.

Mindfulness meditation can help practitioners savour the joyful moments of life and fully be in the moment. It can also assist with the difficult business of facing (and breathing through) the inevitable difficult times.

Some frequently asked questions about mindfulness:

What research has been done into the efficacy of mindfulness? There is now a growing body of research that shows daily practice of mindfulness can have many impacts. From Richard Davidson’s ground breaking research richardjdavidson.com/research to more recent work at the Oxford Mindfulness Centre there is much compelling evidence that mindfulness can have a far reaching impact on body and mind. You can watch this short piece from the BBC on the role MRI scans play in this research youtube.com/watch

The latest research from across the pond can be found in a monthly research round               up goamra.org/…/mindfulness-research-monthly For a summary of recent UK research The Mindfulness Initiative is a good place to start themindfulnessinitiative.org.uk/…/research

Is mindfulness meditation yoga? No, it is not yoga. On mindfulness meditation courses there is often some gentle mindful movement used in class and for the home practice. This is to help practitioners better embody their experience and to encourage being in touch with the sensations of the body but it is not an exercise class.

Is mindfulness meditation Buddhism?  No. Mindfulness courses are secular meditation courses. There is no incense, chanting or discussion of spirituality. Mindfulness is about getting to know thought patterns better so they become recognisable at times of stress and joy. There are some similarities between mindfulness and Buddhism as many of the practices have origins in Buddhism but one is religious and the other – mindfulness – is not.

Why is mindfulness often taught in a eight week block of classes? Many mindfulness courses follow an eight week structure as this has been found to be an optimum time to learn and embed mindfulness meditation practice. After the course you will have a whole range of meditation tools to use in stressful situations and throughout life. You will be well placed to continue your daily practice and continue feeling less stressed in a hectic world.

http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2011/01/eight-weeks-to-a-better-brain/

What can I do after I have finished the course? After the course you need to continue doing daily meditation practice to live a more mindful life. If you feel the need to practice with others you can attend silent retreats or practice sessions. I run 2-3 silent practice sessions a year, in Hertfordshire and Cambridge.

Where can I read more about mindfulness? Please consult the reading list on this website for useful books on mindfulness. The website that accompanies the book Mindfulness: Finding Peace in a Frantic World, is very good. It explains what mindfulness is, what it can do for you and has free meditations to download.

http://franticworld.com/what-is-mindfulness/

http://franticworld.com/what-can-mindfulness-do-for-you/

What attitudes are cultivated on a mindfulness course? You can watch Jon Kabat-Zinn talk about the Attitudinal Foundations of Mindfulness by following this link:

For a fun and engaging explanation of why mindfulness matters and how it can help us live in the moment watch Andy Puddicombe giving this short TED talk

Befriend your stress, Kelly McGonigal explains how at TED

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