Mindfulness. We’ve all heard this word and yet I expect that for many of us there are many misconceptions.
To paraphrase Jon Kabat-Zinn, who has been called the father of the modern mindfulness movement:
Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way – on purpose, in the present moment and with an attitude of kindness towards ourselves and our experience.
What mindfulness is not
Mindfulness is not positive thinking.
Mindfulness is not relaxation or emptying the mind.
Mindfulness is not trying to be a better person.
What mindfulness understands
Mindfulness understands that we have emotions and thoughts that are often chaotic and obsessive.
Mindfulness understands that we live in a very competitive world and that this is hard for many of us.
Mindfulness understands that it is not our fault when we feel anxious and low.
How can mindfulness help me?
So how does mindfulness help us deal with the ups and downs, the moods that can suddenly overtake us for no reason, the voice of the ‘inner critic’ that often feels so loud true?
Mindfulness allows us to pause, to meet our experience, whatever that may be, with some spaciousness that is warm and kindly and never hostile.
This takes time and some effort and is often likened to developing a muscle or learning an instrument.
Mindfulness has proved to be helpful to many people in a variety of contexts, including the treatment of depression, addiction and the promotion of mind/body health.
Research indicates that are benefits for students and teachers for introducing mindfulness into education.
Participants after an 8 week course reported greater self-awareness and empathy and a reduction in emotional stress.
Dan Segal concludes his book Mindsight with the words:
Cultivating mindsight in ourselves and in one another, we can nurture this inner knowing in ourselves and in our children and make it a way of being in the world. We can choose to advance the nature of the mind for the benefit of each us now and for future generations who will walk this earth, breathe this air, and live the life we call being human.
For free guided meditations see http://www.mindfulness.ie ‘Resources’ page.