What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a bit of buzz word these days. Many people speak about and write about it but it can still be unclear what mindfulness actually is.
Jon Kabat Zinn, the founder of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and who is often credited with birth of the modern mindfulness movement, describes mindfulness as:
‘paying attention in particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgementally’.
Let’s break that down:
Paying attention in a particular way refers to bringing conscious, active awareness to something whether that is a situation, a communication or a sensation within our body or a thought in our mind.
On purpose means that we deliberately choose to bring this awareness to this thing – it something that we actively do.
When we pay attention in the present moment, as it happens, we are not caught in the past, thinking of how things could be different or stuck in a reverie of the good old days or getting ahead of ourselves planning our next move or worrying about the future. In the present moment, we are able to be with our current experience and turn toward what is happening in the here and now.
Non judgmentally means that although we may make judgements about the situation, conversation, thought or feeling as it arises, we do not judge the judgement. For example, we may notice that we do not feel comfortable in a particular situation so we become aware of a tightness in our chest and thoughts coming to mind of ‘not liking’ and wanting to get away from this situation and under ‘usual’ circumstances we may then judge and berate ourselves in some way, for example, saying unkind things to ourselves. When bringing mindful awareness to this, we attempt to pay attention in the moment and bring a sense of friendly curiosity to our discomfort rather than judge ourselves for how we are and our experience.
Mindfulness is a skill that we can learn to cultivate and that grows and develops through the practice of mindful meditation. It can help us see our habitual patterns and responses. This in turn can lead us to have different choices in how we respond to situations, experiences and the people in our lives. Taking a Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course offers a systematic way of learning mindfulness meditation and in bedding it into your daily life.
This article is written by our resident MBSR instructor Rachel Millsted.
Hear Rachel talking about learning mindfulness with her during the 8 week MBSR course:
We have MBSR courses running throughout the year.
If you would like to know more please get in touch, we would love to speak to you!