Mindfulness is a mental state achieved by focusing on ones awareness on the present moment, whilst calmly acknowleding and accepting feeling, thoughts and bodily sensations. By being present in this way, we create space to respond in new ways to situations and make wise choices. When we work with mindfulness we can learn how to live with more appreciation and less anxiety.
Mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations and surrounding environment. It involves acceptance, meaning that we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings without judging them...... without believing that there is a "right" or "wrong" way to think in any given moment.
Mindfulness has increased in popularity in recent years due in part to Jon Kabat-Zinn and his Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) programme which he launched at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in 1979. Since then, thousands of studies have documented the physical and mental health benefits of mindfulness, enabling it to be used in a number of settings.
I use this gentle therapy in my counselling practice to aid stress reduction and anxiety - often combining it with Mindfulness Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (MBCT). Mindfulness cognitive behavioural Studies have shown that practising Mindfulness even just for a few weeks can bring a variety of benefits.
These are some of the benefits of Mindfulness:
- Is good for our minds - increases positive emotions whilst reducing negative emotions and is effective in fighting depression and anxiety and preventing relapse.
- Is good for our brains - research has identified that Mindfulness can help learning, memory, emotional regulation and empathy.
- Is good for our bodies - after just eight weeks of practicing mindfulness meditation, it can boost our immune system and fight off illness.
Making mindfulness a part of daily life requires some practise, but embarking on this journey can help us to live a life fully and really feel alive.