Mindfulness is about living more fully in the present moment, rather than dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. It involves learning to pay attention, on purpose, to what is happening 'right now' and cultivating the qualities of curiosity, compassion and acceptance.
Mindfulness requires practice and can be learned by anyone regardless of their background and can enhance our capacity to live more meaningful and peaceful lives.
A growing body of research evidence shows that regular mindfulness practice can have a positive impact on overall levels of health, wellbeing and happiness. Regular mindfulness meditation is associated with:
With time and practice, mindfulness can bring about long-term positive changes.
Mindfulness is a form of 'mind training' that is characterised by:
Keep in mind that mindfulness is not necessarily about relaxation, trying to empty your mind of thoughts, making yourself feel better or a way of distracting yourself from unwanted experiences. It is not a quick fix for our problems, but a practice that can enhance our capacity to live happier and more fulfilled lives.
Mindfulness has been incorporated into a number of approaches rooted in the principles of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). These newer forms of CBT have been referred to 'Third Wave' therapies and include:
While these approaches differ to some degree in their methods, they all incorporate a focus on cultivating mindful states of awareness as a key component of overcoming problems and facilitating positive change.
Mindfulness can be practiced in two different and complementary ways. Regardless of the form it takes, the intention is to engage in the process as best you can and embrace your experience whatever it might be. It is not about aiming to get things 'right' or doing a meditation perfectly.
The first way involves formal meditation where you set aside time each day to practice mindfulness. The second, informal, way involves being mindful as you go about your day-to-day tasks - cooking, washing the dishes, brushing your teeth, walking, driving and so on.
Whether you are engaged in formal or informal mindfulness meditation you will encounter your wandering mind. This is normal, the practice is about noticing where your mind has wandered to and gently guiding it back to where you want it to be.
For more information see your resources page.
* Williams, M, Penman, D. ( 2011) Mindfulness: A practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world. London: Piatkus.
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