“Take a breath, look within… ask yourself, what is really happening now?”
Mindfulness is a way of paying attention, on purpose and non-judgmentally, to what goes on in the present moment in your body, mind, and your wider environment. It can enable you to see life with fresh eyes, undoing mental and physical knots and tensions. Training in mindfulness can open a creative gap in our moment by moment experience within which we can make more helpful choices, rather than responding automatically. This can increase your sense of personal confidence, of having more options to face the different challenges in your life.
With consistent practice, mindfulness training can truly lead to more frequent experiences of happy and contented states of mind. However it is much more than this. Mindfulness training is about being present in our life in its entirety – “warts and all”. It utilises meditation postures such as sitting, lying down or movement as an aid to help us see and understand our experience more clearly. It encompasses looking towards inner difficulties, outer stressful situations and the often mundane aspects of our life, with fresh eyes and a new attitude. It’s about being more conscious, and is the antithesis of mystical escapism.
Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapies (MBCT) have their origins from Buddhist traditions and models. However, Mindfulness is a path of training that can be learned and practised by anyone, no matter what their religious or cultural background.
Within the UK, over the past 30 years, mindfulness skills have been taught with great effect to the general public, in behavioural medicine and mental health settings, as well as in corporations, schools, law courts, legal practices, prisons and government agencies. A considerable body of evidence has demonstrated the effectiveness of mindfulness in a wide range of settings. In the UK, NICE (the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence) recommends mindfulness as a frontline treatment for relapsing depression.
There is also considerable scientific evidence that meditation practice enhances activity in the brain associated with creativity and happiness, and reduces activity in areas of the brain associated with pain. And there is tremendous anecdotal evidence that mindfulness can lead to a reduction in perceived levels of stress.
Mindfulness training is now becoming increasingly available within Australia.