What Is Mindfulness?
Do you keep hearing the word 'mindfulness' and wonder what the heck everyone's on about? It'd be hard to ignore all of the press attention that mindfulness is getting right now, with recent articles in The Guardian, Huffington Post and The Times. You've no doubt heard about initiatives promoting mindfulness in schools, mindfulness in the workplace, mindful eating... even mindfulness for pets (no kidding)!
So what is all the fuss about? What actually is mindfulness, and why should you be doing it? Here is our simple guide to get you started.
1. Yes, mindfulness is meditation! Mindfulness is a secular (non-religious) form of meditation which can be used by everyone. But don't worry, you don't have to sit on the floor cross-legged if you don't want to - mindfulness practice can happen anytime, anywhere.
2. How does mindfulness work? Most of us don’t realise that our daily lives are dominated by distraction and mind chatter. And that distraction and mind chatter winds up being the force that drives us much of the day in terms of what we do, what we react to, and how we feel. Mindfulness teaches us simple practices to move beyond this, bringing calmness, focus, clarity and inspiration.
3. What do mindfulness practices involve? A typical exercise might involve mindfully eating a square of chocolate or a single raisin. Other exercises involve focussing fully on your breath as it enters and leaves your body, observing thoughts as they arise and practising letting them come and go with ease, without engaging with them.
4. Will mindfulness stop my life from being so stressful? Mindfulness won't get rid of life's stresses and pressures. It will, however, radically alter the way you handle them! It helps us to recognise and move away from our habitual reactions, enabling us to respond to events with calmness and ease.
5. Where's the proof that it works? Mindfulness has been subject to over 600 scientific studies, such has been the academic community's interest in figuring it out. Due to its track record it is now widely used in the NHS as an effective treatment for depression and anxiety. Click here to find out more about the science of mindfulness.
6. Ok, I'm convinced. How can I get started? If you'd like to dip your toe into mindfulness our 4 week Mindfulness ABC course is a great place to start. Or if you want to really get stuck into this practice we're running the acclaimed 8 week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction course later this month. We also work with companies looking to incorporate mindfulness into their wellbeing programmes. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more about mindfulness can benefit your organisation.