“Mindfulness is the awareness that emerges when paying attention on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally, to things as they are”
A mindfulness-based approach teaches us to cultivate a patient, kindly, non-judgmental attitude towards ourselves. This can support us in becoming curious about our relationship to our thoughts, emotions and bodies, to the people and the world around us. Through specific guided sitting, standing, moving and walking meditation practices, we can become more connected to our bodies, more comfortable with ourselves.
From this place of connection we can see the world afresh, move away from what doesn't serve us and make positive choices that support, nurture and sustain us.
Cultivating a present moment awareness, in tandem with the cultivation of empathy and kindness, can reveal our natural inner resource and strengths. It can help us gain insight into what is most important in our lives.
So, mindfulness is many things. An approach, a capacity, an attitude to life and an ever-evolving living dynamic practice, supported by the structured practices of meditation.
The practice of meditation originated in India, over 2,500 years ago. Since when they have evolved and been adapted at different times and by numerous cultures.
The 8-week Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction course was devised by experienced meditator and Professor of Medicine, Jon Kabat-Zinn. In 1979 he set up the first Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Much of the course he developed is based on the early ancient teachings and contemporary mindfulness can be taught in both Buddhist and secular contexts. The courses offered here are secular.
Over the past few decades there have been numerous scientific studies evidencing the positive impact of these practices on the neural pathways within the brain. The great news is that, with ongoing practice, it is possible to move from acting on unconscious, habitual (often unhelpful) reactions to a more conscious and appropriate response to whatever is showing up in our lives.